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Luxury Website Design: Nike’s Innovative Apps

Chelsea Davies

Author Image: Chelsea Davies
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In our Luxury Website Design series, we review the digital domains of the leading brands in retail. We take a detailed look at their user experience, visual design, mobile optimisation and retail integration. The team at KIJO.London has vast experience designing and developing bespoke websites for high-end brands. We have been honest in our appraisal of these industry-leading companies and hope our insights provide inspiration for your own business.

We aim to highlight what sets these brands apart. If you see something that would work perfectly for your business but aren’t sure how to implement it, drop us a message. Share your vision with us and we can work on making it a reality.

The World’s Leading Sportswear Brand: Nike

The fourth instalment of our luxury website design series is all about Nike. With a brand value of approximately $34.8 billion, Nike is the world’s leading athletic apparel maker. Founded in 1964, Nike specialises in activewear, training equipment and most notably, footwear. Last financial year, footwear alone generated $24 billion of Nike’s revenue. Whilst not a luxury fashion house such as Gucci or Burberry, their focus on bespoke sneakers and highly technical active gear makes them an internationally renowned, luxury sportswear brand. 

luxury website design series

In 2017, the company launched the ‘Customer Direct Offensive’. Along with the development in production and global supply chain, it heralded a new era for Nike online. They became more aggressive in the digital marketplace. Aiming to double direct to consumer connections, they have produced several apps which provide personalised shopping experiences.

Does their online presence match their broader strategic ambitions, or does the world’s leading sportswear producer still have work to do?

All About the Apps: Special Features Rating 4/5

Considering the stature of the brand, Nike’s website is surprisingly basic. It does function perfectly as an eCommerce store, but beyond selling products, the website offers little to entice visitors. There are a few ‘Feature’ pages with further details on new collections, but each page lacks content. For example, the SNKRS Launch Calendar section, dedicated to their exclusive sneaker releases, includes ‘Feed’, ‘In Stock’ and ‘Upcoming’ pages. But each page only provides various photographs of trainers. While images are a great way to display the products, they can only do so much in isolation. Feature pages that combine eye-catching visuals with powerful messaging deliver a more enticing spectacle to the user.  

High-value footwear accounts for a huge portion of Nike’s revenue. If the website isn’t driving online sales, what is?

The answer: Apps.

Direct to Consumer App Strategy

Nike currently has 4 apps: The Nike App, NIKE SNKRS, Nike Run Club and Nike Training Club. By segmenting customers in this way, Nike is able to deliver a far more personalised experience than its competitors. Tailoring products to the individual goes beyond high-street expectations and elevates Nike into the luxury market. 

The Nike App is for general clothing, accessories and footwear shopping. NikePlus Members get early access to new releases, access to exclusive products and invites to events and experiences. The app has a lot of additional content, including training tips, style advice and in-depth stories – none of which are as easily accessed on the website.

SNKRS is for the most committed sneaker aficionados. The app alerts users to the latest releases, providing details of the most coveted products and experiences.

Nike Run Club provides information and community support for runners of all abilities. All app users are running towards a collective goal of 7 million km. The app offers progress tracking, guided runs and even personal coaching.

Nike Training Club is similar to Run Club but less specialised, instead, providing over 185 guided workouts. Nutritional guidance, tailored training plans and expert help are included features.

How do apps position Nike as a luxury brand?

A mainstay of luxury brands is tailored fashion advice and personalised shopping experiences. Nike uses the Nike and SNKRS apps to provide this, delivering a much more targeted shopping experience for visitors than on the website. When you register for the Nike app you can provide details of your preferred sports activities and receive product recommendations tailored to them. In the SNKRS app, sports fanatics and sneakerheads are able to receive exclusive updates on their favourite styles and learn more about the inspiration and making of Nike’s most exclusive footwear.

The Running and Training apps also go far beyond just offering exercise regimens. They recommend products based on user activity and preferences. These apps also boost the value of the Nike brand. By providing valuable content on training routines and techniques, they incite trust in the brand among niche audiences. Positioning Nike as a leading authority on running and training encourages app users to purchase Nike’s highly technical, more expensive products. 

Such an emphasis on apps could explain why their website falls flat in comparison. But rather than leave the website behind, it would be better if they all developed in unison.

The Power of Membership Walls

Users can’t enjoy the benefits of Nike’s apps without first signing up for free membership. By tantalising customers, Nike easily drives engagement and increases customer data retention. Similar can be said for their website, but the messaging is not as clear. Customers could easily lose interest and leave the site before they realise there is more to explore if they register.

There are no links, other than the nondescript ‘Join Us’ in the corner of the screen, to encourage users to navigate to the membership page. This is a missed opportunity, as this page contains powerful messaging and inspirational imagery which brilliantly conveys Nike’s identity. Unlike many other luxury retail brands, Nike entices users with inclusivity, not exclusivity. The membership page is not overly polished. It is full of motivational videos and relaxed brand ambassadors casually speaking directly to the camera. There are clips of athletes ranging from Serena Williams to Tiger Woods and Cristiano Ronaldo, accompanied by the tagline, ‘Where All Athletes Belong’.

The take-away is clear – membership walls are great when used wisely. But if you hide everything behind them, how do you tempt your customer to join you?

new releases navigation

Excellent Detail, Poor Execution: User Experience Rating 3/5

Offering such a vast array of products could make navigation a challenge. Nike’s detailed navigation bar strikes the perfect balance between detail and clarity. Whilst other luxury retail brands appear fussy, a navigation bar with many options works perfectly for activewear. You can easily find what you are looking for as the navigation bar breaks it down into type, sports, and trend.

Filters are always located in the vertical bar on the left-hand side of the page. It does use more screen real-estate than usual, which is a little annoying, but it’s easy to read and very accessible. There are a lot of detailed elements that make it easy to narrow down your search. However, when you click just one filter, the whole page reloads. This gets fairly tedious when you are after something specific and need to select multiple filters.

User experience is similarly repetitive in the ‘You May Like’ area. There is no smooth, sliding image carousel. Instead, users have to click the arrow multiple times to see additional products. It’s surprising how such small details can make the website design of such a major brand feel outdated.

luxury website design series

Strong Representation Saves Dull Website Design: Visual Design Rating 3/5

Nike’s visual design is very basic. For a brand internationally known for its ‘Just Do It’ slogan, you would expect more of a statement. The homepage includes some bold photography, but beyond that, there is little to report. Pages are interspersed with moving images advertising new campaigns, but there is no overarching style.

When browsing, white space and nondescript black text accompany product images. Each page displays products in rows of three, with written details underneath. It is clear and easy to use, but visually unappealing and repetitive. Even small opportunities to improve the visual design are not capitalised on; colour availability is listed with text, rather than visually represented.

Despite this, there are other areas where Nike excels. Nike’s push for inclusivity is evident across the site. Far more so than any other brand we have reviewed, people of every size, colour, and gender are represented. It’s a sobering mark of how limited inclusivity in luxury retail is that this is so striking on Nike’s website.

displaying products 3 in a row

Style Better Suited to the Small Screen: Mobile Optimisation Rating 4/5

The mobile view of the website delivers a greater impact. The moving images and photography that are swamped by white space on the desktop view are far more impressive on a smaller screen. Advanced customisation controls for football shirts are also available on the mobile site. Impressively, they are as straightforward to use as on a desktop. However, slow loading times hamper the customer journey.

While Nike delivers a perfectly functional mobile website, it’s evident the company’s mobile optimisation strategy is firmly focussed on developing apps. The mobile view of their website does not deliver the additional features and functionality of the Nike app and sales figures reflect this. In the last quarter of 2019, Nike’s digital sales jumped by 38%. What was the driving force behind this? The Nike app and SNKRS app, accounting for one-third of all digital sales for that quarter. Sales via the Nike app more than doubled in this period. 

Whether through apps or website browsing, unlocking sales potential on hand-held devices is essential. On the smaller screen, Nike has decided to invest in app experiences over website development. Judging by the sales figures, they have made a smart investment.  

Keeping Customers Informed: Retail Integration Rating 3.5/5

Nike is great at clearly conveying important information. On the homepage, a text carousel just beneath the navigation bar provides important updates. Information on COVID-19 restrictions, return policies, store openings and discounts are all rotated here. With government policies frequently changing, it’s now more important than ever to keep customers informed. While Nike’s text carousel feature isn’t showstopping in its visual design, it makes sure the latest information is communicated to website visitors immediately. 

view of an individual product

The amount of information provided when you look at an individual product is brilliant. Descriptions include the fit of the item – this small but significant addition is a great idea as more people buy online and changing rooms remain closed. Product descriptions, so often dull and disregarded, are fun and engaging. The lively tone makes information on sustainable product development and further details easy to absorb. The level of detail provided highlights the top-quality materials used and elevates Nike above its competitors.

Beyond just browsing, you can book in for Virtual Advice from Nike Experts. Choose your advisor and 60-minute time slot for an online, personal shopper experience. This is a great feature that would benefit from better advertising. It is not featured on the homepage and on the page itself the text is blocked by the ‘Book’ bar. Again, a great idea let down by poor execution.

Nike’s Website Needs Polishing to Reach Its Potential

Nike’s website does deliver some brilliant elements: the chatty copywriting style, useful product information and great filters. The level of detail clearly provided on everything from the products themselves to changing services must be commended. But the visual design is lacking, especially in comparison to Nike’s suite of apps. The website lacks personalised product suggestions, especially in comparison to Nike’s more targeted apps. If the website focused more on these elements, it would deliver a far more luxurious eCommerce experience. As it stands, it needs a great deal of development to bring it in line with Nike’s wider digital success.