The mission of Williams-Sonoma is to consistently project an experience of quality and corporate responsibility via the website, all interactions with customers and employees, and the overall environment in its stores. One aspect of that goal is to provide a strong sense of place; an in-person store experience that can’t be replicated online. Offering in-store cooking classes is one way to add value to the customer experience, an opportunity for community and socialization as well as a chance to connect with customers on a more intimate basis. It is hoped that, by more fully engaging the customer in this way, the company can offer something that brings an intimate level of interaction with the brand and the products that goes beyond the classic retail relationship, and into the social sphere.
Challenge: The need to create an in-store experience that cannot be replicated by massive online vendors like Amazon.
Team: Just me.
My Role: UX Designer, interview screener, interviews, user/organization/domain research, proto-persona development, sketches and wireframing, prototyping, user testing.
I developed a brief screener survey that narrowed down a few representative users as a useful sample for the exercise; I then wrote an interview script and conducted several phone interviews. The user data indicated that an in-store cooking class would be desirable, in addition (to a lesser extent) to online video classes. I researched the Williams-Sonoma brand: company objectives, strategy, corporate responsibility, and culture, and was able to determine how this idea would potentially fit. I also looked into the overall kitchenware industry as well as other currently available cooking classes, and did an analysis of the competition that gave me useful information on best practices and the likelihood of success. The discovery that most users preferred an in-store experience was surprising, and solidified the direction of the project.
The user data showed a strong interest not only in learning to cook, but also in the social engagement aspect, as well as potential interest in accessing the recipes and cooking utensils used in a class. I combined the information from my user interviews and organizational and domain research to build two proto-personas, and, for the primary persona, typical user scenarios and user flows. These incorporated a plan to set up a user profile where students could share, collect recipes, and purchase the exact products used in their sessions (at a discount).
I began to flesh out my hypothetical structure of in-store classes linked to a student profile containing course recipes, each generating an interactive shopping list of needed grocery items and optional equipment purchases from the online store. Concept-mapping and a quick card-sorting exercise (with classmates) resulted in a sitemap on which to base simple wireframes, built in Sketch.
I took the Sketch wireframes into InVision to generate a medium-fidelity clickable prototype, modeled after Williams-Sonoma’s main e-commerce site, but focusing primarily on in-store and online cooking classes. In addition, the proposed site offers users the ability to create a profile, store recipes from each class they take, and interact with a kitchen checklist that connects them with needed ingredients. The checklist also offers the option to view and purchase the exact cooking equipment they used in their course, via the online store at an exclusive discount. The wireframe image at right links to the actual prototype.
Overall, I found that user goals (learning to cook, getting out of the house, socializing, being exposed to new equipment and methods) would theoretically mesh quite seamlessly with the goals of the organization (customer acquisition/retention, offering an experience not replicable online, plus generating revenue from course offerings and potential sales of demonstrated products). This shows promise for the project, warranting further development and user testing.
The success metrics I identified for a hypothetical final build would be: