In this article there is a video about the New Jordan Signature shoes. This Youtube video is very insightful in depicting the work User Experience Designers do. What really stands out is that the UX discipline is not limited to software but the same methodologies can be used to design, shoes.
Couple of key points of how User Experience design comes into play in the video.
Firstly the designers looked at what the brand stands for and who they are designing it for. This helps clarify business goals and user needs upfront.
Secondly, interviews/Contextual Inquiry with NBA PRO athletes is critical to find out each basketball stars needs and goals during a game. With each basketball player having a different function on the court, this is reflected in how they approach the game of basketball.
These individual needs bring out innovation and customization that is unique to a particular position and help them perform effectively. By focusing on players on top of their game, its easy to see the marketability of the product across large target groups.
The interviews inform the design process early enough to create prototypes (you will see paper prototypes in the video). Players are heavily involved in the actual design process, Participatory design. Feedback from the basketball stars is gathered and used to create initial concept shoes that the players can actually try on. Feedback is gathered once more on the minor tweaks before a polished design is created. Very cool.