RS Components

ROLE: Lead UX Designer
DATE: Sep 2010 - Mar 2012
CLIENT: RS Components
TOOLS: Axure, AI, PS, FW
Just 35 Days - to "fix search"

When I first met RS Components they wanted to fix the search experience on their portal site. Although they are an electronics giant (also known as Radio Shack in the US), with hundreds of thousands of items in the catalogue, customers were having difficulty finding the right component parts. As a result, they were experiencing an unusually high rate of shopping cart abandonment (around 57%). Given the narrow project scope of 35 days - we were instructed to focus on the search functionality (and presumably this would fix the conversion problem).

At the time, I was subcontracting for another agency and, together with their head of research, we dug into the problems. We conducted expert reviews (buying items from the portal ourselves), competitive analysis, held discovery workshops, and analysed the data from earlier research studies. To me, it felt like there were bigger issues than search.

Turning Point

When the initial contract ended, we delivered our findings and recommendation for improving the efficacy of search. But I couldn't let that meeting end without highlighting the other user needs that were going unmet. Given the types of users I had discovered (Operations, Field Mechanics, Design Engineers) and the need to find, verify, and stock component parts, there was much more we could do to improve the portal - as well as the bottom line.

New Contract - UX Role(s)

The consultancy was awarded a 12 month contract and 100% of my time was allocated to this work. That meant that I was leading the portal re-design project. I partnered with the head of design at RS because he was a subject matter expert. Having worked at RS for 2 decades, he was very knowledgeable about the customers, products, and stakeholders. I owned the user centered design process, visual mocks, and technical prototyping. Together we engaged in regular brain storming, sketching, and review sessions.

Focus on Technical Prototyping

As the project progressed, I focused more and more on technical prototyping for three reasons: 1) it was more efficient in collaborating on design solutions (a good proto is worth 1,000 words); 2) the prototypes served as a useful tool when conducting usability studies; 3) interactive prototypes facilitated better stakeholder meetings.

Mobile Applications

After 12 months we had delivered the new portal design - complete with a style guide and working prototype for the implementation team. This work was so successful that RS awarded us a new 6 month contract to explore solutions for mobile and tablet applications. (Our research had uncovered big opportunities around field repairs to expensive equipment.)


In total, after 18 months, we had redesigned the entire portal and mobile web experience. RS reported that shopping cart abandonment had been cut in half. (Conversion was at 78%.) Customers reported significantly greater satisfaction with the experience because they had new ways to discover, compare, verify, and manage component parts they needed.

RS New Home Page RS New Home Page

Discovering 6 Personas RS 6 Personas

List, Grid, and Parametric Views RS Components 3 new views for search results

Mobile UX: Checkout Flow RS Components Mobile Wireframes

Mobile UX: Checkout Flow (continued) RS Components Mobile Wireframes

Mobile UX: Guest Checkout Flow RS Components Mobile Wireframes

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