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Creating a genderless shopping experience


Design Fellow


Annie Li (Product Designer)

Tyler Ferrin (Software Engineer)

Renee Allums (Marketing Coordinator)

Valiant Labs, Nike's new business incubator, creates businesses that serve underrepresented groups and promote sustainability.

Before this startup emerged, like-new, slightly torn, or gently used Nike shoes were deemed ineligible for resale; they were consequently sent to landfills. This new business was determined to reduce environmental waste while providing a cost-effective option for low-income populations. To increase its impact, we redesigned the website filter that in turn simplified the search process and provided the option of a genderless shopping experience. 


Our new filter was celebrated by the Nike core community: 

"[Nike Valiant Labs] validated the proposition that consumers want to see all options that would fit their foot, not their gender, by building a genderless sizing and search functionality on its digital marketplace."


Not long after this redesign, the startup was acquired by Nike. Today, it exists as Nike Refurbished.


Our shoe inventory was vast, but users were having trouble finding their fit.

Analytics and customer feedback revealed users were leaving our inventory page shortly after arrival. We also found those who struggled often were not utilizing the filter functionality on desktop or mobile — something that could drastically optimize their search.

"I love the idea of [business name omitted], but when I get on the site I feel overwhelmed by all the styles and don't know where to start." 

"I see cool shoes drop all the time on social, but when I go on the site I can't find them. I didn't even know you could filter so I used the search bar."

Our previous desktop filter. Following best design practices, we executed a mobile-first approach. However, in the midst of prioritizing mobile users, we lost sight of ensuring the best experience on desktop as well.

How could we design a filter that is user-friendly, functional, but most of all, an integral and delightful part of this shopping experience? 

Observe and Synthesize

We looked at our existing filters. What was working? What wasn't? 

We reviewed user behavior — how do users shop here? How is this different than the usual shoe-shopping experience? Through user interviews and click maps, we learned a majority of users shop by size and style, not by gender or age.

From this, I created an early sketch that focused on a genderless shopping experience. We tested this concept with users and received promising feedback; thus, this served as rough inspiration for our wireframes moving forward.


A low-fidelity sketch of the search functionality. In this mockup, a user selects their preferred size, and our filter simultaneously selects the equivalence of their size across other gender/age categories. 

Keep It Simple

With a newfound focus on general sizing, we implemented a "Select Your Size" button on mobile. To keep scrolling to a minimum, we thought to re-design the mobile experience as well. However, usability tests showed users weren't noticing the option to filter by size. 

Following these insights, we simply made the sizing button larger.


First iteration


Second iteration

Provide Options for Everyone

Our initial design was a stride toward a gender-neutral experience, and it proved successful. However, we later learned some users still preferred to shop by gender. We implemented an optional gender tab for those who preferred a gender-based shopping experience.

Evaluate & Reflect

Though we successfully executed our filter redesign, there were other insights we did not include in this iteration. For example, many of our users prioritized style in addition to size. I would have been interested in exploring "collections," in concept testing. By grouping shoes by style, we could have removed an additional barrier for users whilst also demonstrating that [business name] offers high-demand styles. 


Renee Allums

Former Brand Manager & Marketing Coordinator | Nike

"Naily brings a fresh, innovative approach to her designs but most importantly, her presence brings a light to the workplace! She has a strong work ethic and through her resilient nature, she advocates for meaningful social, political, and environmental change in the corporate space.

Naily ensures that the message your team communicates is designed to create community, educate people, and foster a sense of pride! Any leading, innovative organization who cares about their bottom line, will benefit by having her on-board!!!"

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