Partshub Platform

Partshub PlatformPlatformProducts_and_Platforms.svg

A groundbreaking cloud-based digital platform for the automotive aftermarket

Developed in close collaboration with the team at PartsHub, Rainfall introduced an innovative new way of thinking about the design, user experience, and workflow of data entry and management for teams.

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manage hundreds of these points, for thousands of parts, and risked tens of thousands of dollars in lost revenue from outdated, missing, or invalid data.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.

How we did it
  1. UX Strategy
  2. Content Strategy
  3. Information Architecture
  4. UX/UI Design
  5. User Testing
  6. Art Direction
  7. Visual Design
  8. Creative Direction
  9. Motion Design
A central dashboard allows quick access to product information and data health statistics
The overview of each auto part's data sheet loosely resembles an e-commerce platform
Relevant information including validity recent updates, and contributor comments live in an easily accessible panel that lives to the right of the experience

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:

  1. Make the platform so easy that anyone could jump in and use it

  2. Spark joy in customers who have to use the tool every day so that they stick with it

A single click seamlessly transitions between Editing and Viewing data

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.

  1. Incomplete

  2. Complete but invalid

  3. Complete and valid

The various states of data validation, including incomplete, invalid, and valid
A comment thread helps collaborators communicate within the context of each individual auto part
A detailed log reveals a product's update history and workflow advancements

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.

A simple dropdown allows users to select which retailer to validate their product data against

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.

The Impact

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.

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