Urban Plates is a fast-growing restaurant chain, whose focus on delicious, healthy, and affordable meals “born of goodness” is attracting a legion of passionate customers spanning all the way from the sandy shores of California to Washington DC.
When the Urban Plates team first approached CitrusBits, Urban Plates was already selling meals on aggregator platforms like Uber Eats and DoorDash, as well as through their website. However, the Urban Plates team believed that the only way to deliver a true digital restaurant experience — capable of maximizing customer satisfaction, retention, and restaurant profitability — was to provide a dedicated and custom-built mobile ordering app.
For this, they asked CitrusBits to: (1) design and build them a mobile app on iOS and Android, and (2), connect the app with their existing backend POS, menu, delivery, and payments systems.
Importantly, the app needed to fully embody the wholesome goodness and distinctive brand identity Urban Plates had cultivated over the past few years.
Because several of our LA-based team were already zealous Urban Plates regulars (as there’s a location not more than a mile away from our office), CitrusBits came into the engagement with exceptionally strong intuition about Urban Plates’ food, customer base, and brand pillars.
We understood that a key to this app’s success would be allowing each menu item to shine. That meant large images, a focus on the top-notch, farm-to-table ingredients, and plenty of “room to breathe.”
Urban Plates’ marketing team provided a comprehensive style guide and all the visual assets we needed to create a comfortable, intuitive, and inviting experience worthy of the Urban Plates name, and our designers did the rest.
User Experience Focused on Empowering the Diner
Our UI/UX designers challenged themselves to make the ordering process simple and fresh — while still providing the deep order customization Urban Plates’ customers expect. Users of the app are able to easily customize orders in a multitude of ways, including: specific allergies, dietary preferences, choice of protein, choice of sauce, salad dressing options, steak preferences (e.g.: well done), and bread preferences, for example.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, we quickly pivoted to add support for curbside pickup – complete with screens to capture vehicle information — alongside the standard delivery, takeout, and dine-in ordering options.
Additionally, we built into Version 1.0 features to “favorite” menu items, search and select different restaurant locations, save and edit payment methods and delivery addresses, and more, with a whole host of additional enhancements slated for future release.
Back-kitchen Systems and Development
Meanwhile on the development side of things, our engineers had immersed themselves in a deep dive with Urban Plates’ existing backend systems, such as Novadine, the ecommerce backend Urban Plates was already using for its website orders. The app’s success would require full mastery of these systems’ APIs, and by extension, the POS, payments, and other integral systems.
Our team worked directly with various 3rd party vendors on a weekly basis to master the necessary API controls. Once this critical mastery was achieved, we were able to smoothly and systematically implement all the critical backend functionalities: menus, locations, ordering, payments, delivery (DoorDash), and so on. Working in parallel, our frontend developers focused on delivering snappy and stable application performance.
From there, we initiated the final phase of QA testing and polished the app for its impending release.