Case Study
Nike Adapt BB
Nike concept Project
Introducing Nike Adapt BB

It was really exciting to have the opportunity to work on the Nike Adapt BB product and app.

Combining Nike, a brand that’s all about improving the athlete, with wearable tech and an app?!

This is going to be CRAZY!

We wanted to hit the ground running, so we started compiling a list of subject matter experts whom we knew in the fields of basketball, design, and preventative technology. As we gathered more and more information, it seemed we put the cart before the horse. We thought we knew out the gate what this app redesign was going to be (injury prevention for professional athletes through real-time motion assessment via the shoe) not knowing we were headed for few pivots that would change our concept completely.

The Challenge

Nike Adapt was a challenge because it could’ve gone in so many different directions. There was a lot of generative research that needed to be conducted and discovering the core value of this app was key. Where could the focus be? Injury prevention? Athletic performance? How can we leverage technology to help athletes perform better? At the present time, the app wasn’t providing enough value because it was only performing three basic functions:  Remotely adjust the fit of your Nike Adapt BB shoes, change the LED colors and monitor the battery level. I recognized right away that none of these features were top key performance indicators when it comes to improving athletic performance. The app turned out to be a novelty accessory. Per our user interviews, it wasn’t a tool that could improve performance on the basketball court.

The Questions

The question we began asking was, “Who is this shoe really for?” Is it for NBA players, college ballplayers, or parents supporting the dream of their young basketball prodigy? Or, should we be thinking of accessibility and how this technology could help people that are unable to tie their own shoes? When we started going down that rabbit hole, we knew we needed to let the research do the talking.

The Solution

To expand upon the Nike Adapt app so that it leveraged science, data, and proven training concepts, leading to increased athletic performance. To implement a unique “practice to perform” method that helps anyone, from novice to professional, improve their movement pattern and basketball skills.

Subject Matter Experts​

david nurse 

NBA shooting and skills trainers 

Brian Buck

Sparta Science Performance Analyst 

Brandee Walton

USC women’s basketbal

While these interviews with sports professionals demonstrated value in implementing app features that could support injury prevention and assess the athlete’s strengths and weaknesses in movement, the user interviews showed us there was something missing.  

 

The user interviews caused us to refocus on the Nike brand and make sure our goals aligned. Nike is about bringing inspiration and innovation to every athlete while improving their overall athletic performance. This pulled us into ideas about enhancing the app, versus getting stuck on changes that had more to do with the shoe itself. 

We then started to take notice of the sneakerheads, league basketball, and pick-up game players.

 

 That’s when we discovered: 

• There wasn’t any relacing happening. Unlacing or relacing happened at the end of the game. 

• To tighten shoes, NBA players can’t take their phone onto the basketball court, thus decreasing the value of the app.

• The app’s functionality was only utilized for a fashion statement or to entertain the user with the shoe’s light features

What made this project important to me?

 

I don’t play basketball, but I know sports. I’ve even trained professional athletes. I found myself asking, how can we help both the novice and professionals move better and increase player career lifespan? The answer ended up solving 2 challenges. 

 

The app would automatically encompass preventative features by training players to move better with lateral movements to strengthen ligaments, vertical movements for bone density, dynamic drills to increase mobility, and more. 

 

Our subject matter experts helped us understand the demands on the athletic body, but our novice players gave more insights on what they wanted from the Nike Adapt app and shoe combination. How they train, consume basketball content, what position they play, and whom they emulated, were all factors that informed our design and process. 

 

Basketball was not just a sport but a culture where the shoe you played in, and how you wore it, played a big part in how you expressed yourself on the court. It’s like putting together a carefully curated Spotify playlist to share with your friends.

 

When we hopped on that train, we finally knew where we were going. It was easier to figure out the solution. We used artificial intelligence for people who have a passion for data and technology and combined it with old-school skill development.

shoe itself. 

After defining the user persona, we jumped into a design studio that helped generate layout ideas and features. Here we discovered the complexity of the app we were trying to build and simplify its usability while keeping the end goal in mind. 

 

At the conclusion of the design studio, we were able to hone in on MVP and what we were trying to solve. We prioritized the app features, based on the user’s list of requirements. This task helped us to distinguish user's must-haves from what the users wanted.

To ensure our design was going in the right direction, we addressed any essential features or flaws before the final prototype. We tested, prototyped, and tested again to get rid of low-impact features and relied on trackable data that would assist with improving athletic performance.

Usability Testing

We scheduled a usability testing session at Niketown LA which is located at the Grove and Shoe Palace retail store. This allowed us the test Basketball players who were also shoe experts. We found that the prototype was easy to use once the users understood the icons in the navigation bar. This led us to perform a card sorting of our icons as well as create an onboarding tutorial defining each icon and its purpose. 

Prototype Screens

Prototype

Lateral Quickness Drill

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© 2020 by Bruce Elebee