Sales Associate/UX Designer
About five years ago, I embarked on a career path within Nike. I started of as a part-time retail “athlete” and worked my way into a managerial position. My dream was to make it to a corporate design job, but I ultimately changed my path because I did not want to leave home(most Nike careers leading to Oregon). I still debate on chasing that dream. Even though I chose a different direction, Nike still had an everlasting effect on my career. This case study shows how my experience at Nike were the my first steps as a UX Designer.
It Starts with Empathy
A customer walks into the store and heads straight for an associate. They get to discussing the customer’s running habits. This is likened to a user interview. They currently run in the Nike Free, unaware that the shoe is built for barefoot running, low impact, low mileage. They claim that the longer they go the more their feet hurt, and the fatigue weighs down even more. With this information, we can define the problem.
We Come Up with Ideas
From the “interview,” we can infer that the customer is looking a for a running shoe that can give them more impact protection, and stand the mileage of a longer run. We generate a couple ideas to choose from Nike’s footwear technology. We think of shoes that possess these features, and come up with a prototype that can be tested by the user:
The Nike Zoom Pegasus 35 – Zoom air cushioning for a responsive(energy returning) ride. Engineered-mesh upper for a breathable, traditional fit.
We present the shoe to the customer, and have them try it on AKA usability testing. On their own, the customer would jog around the area to get a feel for the product. We make a little observations on their movement, and they remove the show. New data is gathered. They miss the feel of the Nike free because it was like an extension to their body. However, they do enjoy the cushioning.
Sometimes, the customer can be happy on the first try and walk out the door. Other times, like for this scenario, we would have to back track on the design process. We come up with another suggestion:
The Nike Epic React – React cushioning for a softer, impact-absorbing ride. A Flyknit upper for a sock-like fit.
The customer tries on this pair, and immediately falls in love. However, they may try on the other pair again(A/B testing) to get a feel for the difference. Otherwise, we have a winner and a happy owner of a new pair of Nikes.
Run It Back
The testing stage can exceed the point where the user purchases the product. They may try running in it for a few days, only to realize the cushion wore down too quickly, and exchange them for another pair(or ask for a refund). After that, we could go back through the process once again until we got it right.
This is just one of many scenarios that would happen during my time as a Nike employee, and you can see how it translates into UX. You can use UX, anywhere. You just have to look at it in a certain way to find it.