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Research | Analytics | Design

January - May 2022

Sneaker Dreams Realized: A Design-Powered App for Customizing and Selling Iconic Footwear
Giving the design power to sneakerheads


”Imaginative artists need a better outlet to not only express their art to others but to be paid professionally as well. Artists need a workable medium to display their creativity and earn money doing so.”

Sneaker Dreams Realized: A Design-Powered App for Customizing and Selling Iconic Footwear

Imaginative artists need a better outlet to not only express their art to others but to be paid professionally as well. Artists need a workable medium to display their creativity and earn money doing so.

What if we could create an app that allowed artists and other creatives to design their favorite brand of sneakers for a profit?

Image by Ari He

The Strategy

To create the U-Design app, we started with discussions and education. We went over the pertinent topics and questions that needed to be evaluated and collected information via internal documents, industry reports, and web searches in order to understand the sneaker and customized sneaker industry.


Our research would better guide us into how the market operates and how our users align with the gathered data. I had developed the research plan that outlined the information to be gathered and the methodologies that we used to perform this research.

Once the research had been compiled, I was tasked with organizing all of the data to form the final research report.

Pertinent Topics

  • Understand the basis of the sneaker industry and its appeal.

  • Analyze market competitor's strengths and weakness.

  • Identify users who consume sneakers the most.

  • Identify customer's needs and goals.

  • What kind of lifestyle does the user group(s) have?

  • What are the user groups' motivations and fears?

The Solution

Since the users are the main focus of our design efforts, we needed to converse with them one-on-one to truly understand their motives, fears, goals, and other behavioral patterns that would give us insight on how best to suit their needs. The U-Design team conducted five user interviews, each split between Generation Y users and Generation Z users. Since we found through initial research that these two groups would be our targeted users, we wanted to gain a better understanding towards which age group was more inclined to use the app as opposed to the other age group. I was able to come up with the user interview questions and the plan that kept us on task.

During these interviews, I switched between being the moderator and facilitator alongside the team leader Jammal Lee, to give the interviewees a comfortable space to speak.

Key Questions

  • What is your relationship like with shoes/apparel?​

  • Tell me about the last time that you tried to shop for customized sneakers.

  • Do you own a pair of custom designed sneakers?

  • How do you think wearing custom sneakers is going to help you?

  • Are you interested in designing your own sneakers?

  • Why would you design your own sneakers?

Key Findings

  • All of the interviewees owned a vast amount of sneakers. Gen Y mainly used their sneakers for activities while Gen Z wore sneakers as a fashion statement.

  • Gen Y interviewees were more reserved with how and when they purchased sneakers while Gen Z had more disposable income.

  • Gen Y was interested in the idea of customizing their own sneakers but were less likely to use this feature while Gen Z seemed more inclined. 

  • Gen Y had a more casual fashion sense and Gen Z preferred vibrant colors or trending styles.​

  • Gen Z liked the idea of having a tool that fostered creativity and authenticity.


This is when the U-Design team defined the high-level structure of the screen layouts, flow, behavior, and organization. This process was iterative as we tried to ensure that we followed good UI principles and usability.

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Start Designing by Style or Brand

Easily select your favorite sneaker and start creating

Shop Recent Designs from Other Artists

Easily browse and shop designs by artists

Create a Design by Clicking the Pencil Button

Easily browse and shop designs by artists

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Order Your New Custom Design

Once your design is complete, order it to start wearing it

Send an Item to Your Shopping Bag

Like what you see? Add it straight to your bag

Customize Your Design According to the Shoe Part

Customize the laces, sole, logos, mesh, and other areas of the sneaker

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Add many different elements to your design 

Change the color, add patterns, or upload your own design

Discover Creators

Follow, Shop, and connect with other creators on the app

Support a Creator

Support a creator by purchasing one of their unique designs


Key Takeaways

1. Balancing Creativity with Usability: Our primary lesson was the importance of balancing extensive customization features with a user-friendly interface. We found that while sneaker enthusiasts craved creative freedom, an overly complex interface could be overwhelming. Simplifying the design process without significantly limiting creative options was key to making the app accessible and enjoyable for all users.

2. The Value of Community Interaction: Initially underestimated, the integration of social features like design sharing and community voting was a game-changer. Feedback from users highlighted their desire not just to create but also to connect, share, and receive recognition within the community. This significantly boosted user engagement and retention.

3. Adapting to Rapid Industry Trends: Working within the sneaker industry, characterized by fast-evolving trends, taught us the importance of agility in app development. Regular updates and a flexible design approach were crucial in keeping the app relevant and in sync with the latest sneaker culture dynamics.

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