When an auto part is produced, data points related to its manufacture, safety, vehicle fitment, and installation must be cataloged and shared with retailers for it to be eligible for sale.
Previously, parts companies relied on primitive, dense spreadsheets to manage hundreds of these points, for thousands of parts, and risked tens of thousands of dollars in lost revenue from outdated, missing, or invalid data.
What we did
Rainfall partnered with PartsHub to drive the automotive industry forward with the first cloud-based platform for cataloging and verifying automotive data.
The unique user experience is crafted specifically to expedite entry, increase accuracy, and facilitate a seamless transfer to retailers.
At its core, the product is a simple dashboard that allows users to toggle between viewing and editing autopart information as part of a managed workflow. Complexity arrives in the depth of information that is required—numerous categories containing fields that must be correctly filled out, often by specialists who have a keen understanding of autopart nomenclature and vehicle fitment.
As with all projects here at Rainfall we approached design with two guiding principles:
Make the platform so easy that anyone could jump in and use it
Spark joy in customers who have to use the tool every day so that they stick with it
A Customer-Centric Experience
To understand our customers, we observed how data specialists interacted with their existing tools, and found that they often jumped between two screens, and if necessary, physical reference materials.
With their focus constantly shifting between these locations, the speed at which they could regain their bearings slowed, and was made worse by the tiny spreadsheet cells they sought to locate.
This discovery framed our thinking about how to structure the design of input forms, and resulted in a groundbreaking approach where each data category had a unique layout of form elements. These “fingerprints” as they became known, allow for rapid recall of which dataset the user is reviewing without the need for navigational cues.
Within each view, the form elements never change position, regardless of screen size, so that users can easily learn their location and quickly return their attention after looking away.
Striving for accuracy
We defined product efficacy as fostering not only a complete data set, but one that was perfectly accurate. Multi-step validation happens in real-time, with warnings displayed on individual fields which are augmented by hints and examples in an intuitive right-hand panel.
Complete but invalid
Complete and valid
Optimized for increased sales
Many retail catalogs do not require products to include every possible data point included in the industry standard. Instead, retailers will specify distinct collections of fitment, material, and safety information, completing which will certify a product valid for sale.
We allow users to validate their products in alignment with a particular retailer or group of retailers by hiding unnecessary fields. Despite a reduction of form elements, those remaining maintain their original position, improving the efficiency of our users.
More vehicles than dealership row
For many autoparts, describing fitment can be a massive undertaking. Items like air filters, spark plugs, or wiper blades might fit hundreds of makes and models. Alternatively, some parts only fit a single vehicle, and making a simple error such as “LT” instead of “LE” could lead to revenue loss and returned product.
We designed a smart search that quickly specifies all possible fitments, and automatically updates as additional vehicle attributes are defined.
Using motion for added direction
At Rainfall, we consider experiences to include all elements that contribute to the usability and enjoyment of the products that we design. Motion contextualizes the relationship between states, guides the user to take action, and demands attention if something goes awry.
There are no abrupt transitions or hard page loads in PartsHub. Instead, much like driving a vehicle there is fluid motion between screens with occasional stops to reveal additional information, take action, and review progress.
A friendly approach to illustration
To meet our goal of delighting customers who work in PartsHub all day long, we developed a friendly approach to illustration that gave the feeling of using a consumer product. Friendly icons and illustrations use vehicles as the basis of their message, and often employ puns to convey meaning.
How this process informed our UX approach
PartsHub is a product born of the idea that data entry can be made more efficient, enjoyable, and capable than its alternatives. We designed their platform through a process of rapid questioning, bending, and improving of accepted procedures, throwing away solutions that felt tedious or unexciting. The result is a tool manufacturers and retailers came rushing to, as they saw that a single investment helped both retain staff and achieve better product data.
Data accelerated into the 21st century
For the first time, entire teams access the same product catalog, while distinct workflows enable contribution from sales, marketing, and customer service members.
Centralized, expert content increases sales and is only possible with PartsHub.
A perfect catalog is most useful in the hands of retailers. Native connections to more than 10,000 potential partners accelerate the transfer of catalog data.