How the adidas creation portal is streamlining employee productivity and resource sharing

Adidas launched the Digital Creation End to End initiative, with the ambitious goal of streamlining the entire product creation process from start to finish. At the heart lies the Adidas Creation Portal: a web platform designed to track the entire product lifecycle and provide essential assets for the company's creators.
As the lead designer my goal was to establish a scalable concept and provide guidance for other contributors on how to add new functionalities without disrupting the platform's coherence. I used these principles to design the first tools for the portal and defined the guidelines for the underlaying design system.
Lead UI/UX Designer
Web Desktop and Mobile
Sportswear / Fashion

The adidas Creation Portal

The Creation Portal is a collection of connected applications which follow the lifecycle of a product from beginning to end. It’s a place where a lot of communication and sharing is happening to reach the final goal of finishing a product according to the brief so the factories get what they need in time to produce the articles for the next season.

Understand the creators through user research

Before the projects official kick off, I had a few weeks to conduct initial user research to identify pain points that adidas employees faced when using existing software.

Together with the design team I created a set of personas for the main users. I conducted interviews, reviewed past research in our database and documented all the findings in spreadsheets and user journey maps for a clear visualization.

The main opportunities

During the user research phase four main issues appeared consistently across all user groups:

  • Finding information was difficult for users who didn't know which tool provided it.

  • Access was requested individually for each tool, and the approval process was not always transparent, causing delays of up to two weeks.

  • The tools were complex and unintuitive, requiring costly and time-consuming training.

  • The information was often out-of-date and conflicting with the documentation in other systems.

Addressing these issues was crucial in designing a portal that would streamline the creation process and enhance efficiency for adidas employees.

All tools in one place

To address the problem of users being unaware of available tools, the new platform includes an App-Switch that presents a curated selection of essential tools based on the user's job position. This entry point, located in the top left corner, enables users to quickly and easily discover the tools at their disposal and gain a comprehensive overview of their options.

Different users have different priorities

Given the diverse range of user groups accessing the portal we clustered information into modules and ordered those to the needs of each user group. For example, a manager might prioritize the progress of underlying tasks, while a developer may be more interested in instant access to the finished design files.

Access by default

As each tool was managed by a different team, access to these tools was also managed by different individuals, with each team having its own unique process and rules for obtaining access. At the time, the prevailing mentality was to default to strict access restrictions to prevent confidential information from being shared outside the company.

Unfortunately, this approach led to frustration among employees who mostly required non-confidential information. Therefore, the new system required a different approach: access is now granted by default to all employees within the company, with only the confidential parts of the tools being restricted instead of blocking the entire tool.

The DNA of it all - the Yarn Design System

To ensure consistency across the tools, we launched the Yarn design system, with me as the lead and the assistance of two designers and two developers. The system's visual design is derived from the E-Commerce style, but with adaptations to meet the complex requirements of enterprise software, such as enhancements for accessibility, a bigger icon set, and font styles for nitty gritty data tables.

Over my period at adidas we had more then 15 applications using Yarn as a base.

Communication with the team

As this project involved a team of over 100 members, clear communication was crucial. To ensure comprehension, I utilized a variety of artifacts to convey research findings and design concepts. However, due to confidentiality concerns, the contents of these artifacts have been blurred.

What the team says

Design Director Adidas
“I have gained the impression that no problem is too tricky for Andi”
He has far exceeded our expectations. On a personal level, too, I can recommend him without reservation. He is a friendly, affable person who acts in a considered manner and reacts calmly even in the face of difficulties. I can only warmly recommend Andi.

Special thanks to:

Francesco Fera • Florian Weber • Retno HadiningdiaH
Jacob Lee • Nina Hanselmann