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WW (Weight Watchers): From food tracking to complete wellness program


From Food Tracking to a Complete Wellness Program

WW is a global wellness company and the world’s leading commercial weight management program. WW programs inspire millions of people to adopt healthy habits for real life through innovative digital experiences and in-person group meetings. Their practical lifestyle programs encourage healthy eating, physical activity, and positive mindset. They’re on a mission to deliver wellness to all.

Weight Watcher
Use case



New York, US

Key results
  • 3 keystrokes to the right result 

  • 100x faster search 

  • Millions of items indexed in seconds 

  • 90% of queries return in under 14ms

The challenge

  • 1.

    Provide the flexibility to iterate quickly on both desktop and mobile

  • 2.

    Create a natural, conversational experience

The solution

  • 1.

    Help user finding the items they’re searching for in as few as 3 character strokes

The result

  • 1.

    Search performs 100 times faster

  • 2.

    90% of search queries returning in under 14 milliseconds

The challenge

In 2014 when WW decided to transform their members’ digital experience, redefining the search experience quickly became essential. Nicolas Chikhani, VP of Product Management and Beno Mathew, Director of Engineering knew that they needed a solution that would not only provide the flexibility to iterate quickly on both desktop and mobile, but also create a natural, conversational experience. During this complete redesign of the user experience, their team analyzed everything from products and programs to platforms and technologies that support them, in order to deliver personalized and cutting edge member offerings. 

Tracking food quickly and accurately is core to a member’s success with WW’s programs, so a personalized and intuitive food tracking experience became top priority. This state of the art experience would hinge upon a high performance search function— one that could deliver personalized results to users instantly.

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“Search is a core experience for us, and it’s a hard problem to solve.” Beno Mathew, Director of Engineering - WW

The solution

WW sought out the leading expert in the search space, and after evaluating multiple vendors they determined Algolia to be the partner they were looking for. With Algolia Custom Ranking, Beno and his team configured their search relevance to consider things like member-generated custom content, past member behavior, and seasonality. As a result, members find the items they’re searching for in as few as 3 character strokes—an impressive feat, given their massive data sets.

The result

WW uses member-generated content to personalize the tracking experience, resulting in especially large data sets, quickly growing from hundreds of thousands to hundreds of millions of data points. Despite this enormous growth in data, Algolia’s search performs 100 times faster than WW’s previous search solution, with 90% of search queries returning in under 14 milliseconds. What’s more, Algolia refreshes search results as a member searches in real time.

Nicolas Chikhani, VP of Product Management - WW “Not many search engines allow you to refresh the entire results set at every single keystroke”

WW’s implementation of Algolia doesn’t stop there. When their tech teams invest in technology, they look for products and teams that are flexible enough to fit their evolving roadmap. At the time they were seeking a search product nimble enough to solve their search problem immediately, robust enough to handle their complex personalization needs, and cutting edge enough to fit evolving use cases over time. Fast forward to today, Algolia is powering much more than traditional search experiences. WW uses Algolia to power their Recipe Explorer as well as their CRM search, and are constantly working on new ways to leverage Algolia products to support their innovations.

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