Cabal, the dark side of sneakers


UX Research
UX Design
UI Design


I lead the ideation and UX process of the Cabal sneaker app project.


As a personal problem, I tend to struggle to find specific sneakers. Especially the colour, black is one of the most popular colour for sneakers according to a recent study, the majority of customers look for black sneakers. Second comes white and then navy.

As a sneaker fan myself, I mostly purchase black ones from different brands and it is frustrating that online stores either have none in stock, hard to find certain ones and having to filter out other colour sneakers besides black. There must be a way to explore black sneakers at your fingertips. Therefore, I am determined to find out.

Project Goals

Increase conversion to the search feature to help customers explore sneakers.

Make life easier for customers to explore black sneakers at their fingertips.

Focus on the user experience that explains what the product is and the end to end buying process.

Create an exclusive platform that showcases new sneakers from brands.

Design the user interface for a simplicity and intuitive experience.


Although this is a personal experience of mine, I will conduct UX research to understand what people think about the idea of having a niche and specific colour sneaker product and gain further insights. Finding more problems users have when using ecommerce apps and pinpoint the delighters.


If we… Allow customers to search for black sneakers from different brands quickly and easily…
Then… We increase customer experience…
So that… It will increase conversion to the checkout process and have returning customers.

Research Methods

User interviews

User interviews help understand what the user thinks and feels and to empathise with the users. Identifying the pain points and map out the requirements for the features.

Infinity mapping

Gathering the findings from user interviews will build a foundation to categorise the priority of the problems to help me solve the problems.

Prototype testing

Testing prototypes to validate assumptions from research. As well as getting the MVP out there and get feedback to iterate further.


Fictional characters produced based on the research to represent different user types that might use the product in a similar way.

Competitor analysis

Looking into how other competitors do it and and how I can do it better. Also to find the current problems users have and empathise with them.

Information architecture

Structuring the information architecture to guide customers through the end to end buying process. Understanding the user needs to prioritise information the they will see first.

Research findings

Frustrating when I am trying to buy online or on an app

Using apps and online stores to purchase sneakers can be intuitive. Not easy to use so I give up and ask my son for help.

Better search functionality

Would prefer a way to search for specific colour sneakers. Like black ones. I often spend too much time searching for black colour.

Make popular, retro and exclusive sneakers available

A lot of popular and exclusive branded sneakers are never available to buy, either sold out or out of stock.

Black sneakers are prefered

From the user research, the majority of customers have said black sneakers are their preferred choice when purchasing. And would like a better experience to help them search for black sneakers.

Finding out the problems customers have is indeed vital to the UX process. It helps not only from my personal experience, but getting the assumptions validated has given myself confidence that these problems customers encounter are waiting to be solved.


This is an app to help customers explore, research and buy black sneakers from every brand you could imagine. In one place. The first and only platform to sell one colour sneakers and is exclusive. New launches and arrivals from top brands will showcase at Cabal store before anywhere else. Keeping a few steps ahead of the trend. Making life easier for you to explore the world of black sneakers at your fingertips. Nothing else. Is there a darker side of you?

A design system for future proof

By producing a design system will not only to help me but will be helpful in the future. Keeping the interface consistent is absolute key to designs and for teams to work together to build the ultimate product with speed and preciseness. Design systems are not only important to product teams and UX teams, this also brings the development teams closer to work to the defined business goals. Development teams are able to understand the logic and components to build with understanding the product in the long run.


Through the user research labs, customers, have said that as long as the onboarding process is fast it will be delightful.

To generate interests and capturing curiosity, users will encounter the immediate dark theme of the splash screen. Because the design of the product is different from other competitors. By putting a simple onboarding process with a few steps will create that fast intuitive experience for users.

Welcome to the dark side

‘A cabal is a group of people united in some close design together, usually to promote their private views or interests in an ideology, state, or other community, often by intrigue, usually unbeknown to persons outside their group. The use of this term usually carries strong connotations of shadowy corners, back rooms and insidious influence. The term is frequently used in conspiracy theories.’


One of the comments that were highlighted frequently during the user research lab session was that customers like to see inspiration which will give them ideas as well as exclusive products that are available to buy.

Therefore, the discover screen recommends users the latest trends from each brand. Helping them to discover top sellers, exclusive sneakers and the ‘must haves’ according to the community.


Displaying clear CTAs and information in a way for customers to scan at a glance was raised during the user interview. Understanding their needs, I went away generating solutions to solve the problem.

Searching for sneakers have never been easy. With progressive search, users are able to find any black sneakers with the help of suggested search and keywords. The layout of the information are displayed on the screen for easy scanning with limited content and emphasising more on the imagery to encourage users to tap through to conversion.


Simple filtering avoids distractions and frustrations. The information architect is in the order according to the user interviews conducted, where customers stated what was important to them when refining their search.


Customers have said generally too much information on product screens leads to difficulties to scan for the information they desire.

Showing relevant information about the product in a hierarchy order is key to conversion. The challenge to create the dark theme would mean I have to heavily focus on the layout, imagery and copy to make it work throughout the product.


Purchasing sneakers have been made easier with relevant information presented to the user on the same screen to fill in part of the form before going onto one more screen for payment details. This is the solution to the feedback from user interviews where customers said that purchasing a product can be painful, with numerous screens and form fields to go through.

Customers have said most e-commerce websites make it difficult, in particular when viewing the initial thumbnail product information. Because customers don’t want to go through the product page to finding out it’s not the right product and having to go back out. With empathy for customers, the user experience presents the relevant information about each product without tapping to enter the next screen to see more. Gathering enough information on the current stage, users are able to make a decision whether it’s to remove the unwanted product or proceed further.


One of the delighter we have that differentiate from competitors, is that joining the community and become a reseller whether you have bought the wrong size sneakers and unable to return them or simply you decide to let those collectors items go to a good home. You can also do a lot more within profile screen such as customising the different dark themes to suit your need.

The settings area is designed to make it easier for the user to amend personal details with a few taps and presented with a clean interface. From the user interviews, customers noted that changing details can be difficult with too many taps to get one thing changed.

Key Learnings

Conceptual models

Learning from the UX research lab sessions has guided the design decisions and empathising with the customers. learning about users' needs have given me a greater head start to bring the product to life much quicker to test further and validate my assumptions.

Looking back on the challenges, conducting usability testing sooner on each wireframe prototype to validate each section of the user experience is important to gain feedback. The takeaway is understanding good conceptual models has helped me to provide appropriate information to make the product understandable and enjoyable to use. In other words, good communication.