Behold notlob: The simplest way to defeat hunger in the Kingdom of Bahrain.
A Little Back Story
Everyone loves food, don’t they? Food is not just a commodity or a necessity, it never was. It’s more of an experience. An experience that resonates with culture connected to it. Back when dining out with your family was a thing, going to a food chain was like going on vacation for a few hours. Most people can’t travel across countries all the time, but when you go to a great Italian food joint and order some traditional Bolognaise or Spaghetti, it’s like you’re on a teleportation device and it zaps you to Italy. Then the night is out and it’s back to reality, but for a few hours, you travel distances you normally wouldn’t be able to and have had adventures that you could only dream about, at least, for the moment.
iOS Development, Web Design
A Little Back Story
As a new service breaking into the industry, we had to know what we were up against in terms of competition.
Talabat was a Food & Grocery Delivery Service operating in Bahrain, and our service would be competing directly with them. They already had a pretty comprehensive userbase, with 5 Million+ downloads, and they have been in the game since 2012.
A Little Back Story
The client wanted it done on a tight deadline, which is understandable, given everything that was going on, such as the Pandemic. So, this was the right time to act, which meant that certain things had to be done simultaneously, such as:
We put six of our best and most experienced professionals to take lead on the project.
4 Developers, 2 Designer, 1 Project Manager.
Development was pretty much a straight forward process, as we have been making similar platforms for years
now and our developers were well versed in the process.
Product Discovery Workshop
The workshop was a tool that we used to get everyone involved and on the same page. Our client had a vision, and for the project to be successful, the entire team had to resonate with that vision and make it their own. We conducted several hours of face-to-face meetings (via video conferencing) to get the team acquainted with the project, what kind of audience it targets, and why such a platform is needed.
There are many online food ordering and delivery platforms all over the world. Not so many were functioning in Bahrain, and the ones that were available didn’t have anything much new to offer. Our goal was to build a platform where people from all over the Country could order food in the simplest, quickest way possible.
The major challenge on this project was of course the tight schedule that we were on. But instead of drying us out, the challenge inspired our team to extract the maximum potential out of themselves and deliver a very productive 30 days.
Another challenge was the platform itself. The idea and development were simple enough but turning it into something new and innovative was the real motive. A platform where anyone in all parts of Bahrain could get access to different kinds of food items easily.
Something worth mentioning is that our team worked on this amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, and everything had to be done remotely. Our development team enthusiastically worked with our clients, providing round the clock support, and never let the unfavorable situation get the better of them.
This phase was one of the most important phases for developing the app. Understanding who the end-users are, what they look for in such a platform, and what their essential needs are laid the foundation for how the platform will look and what features need to be added and tweaked. For us, the client was full of intel and they had conducted a thorough user-research, implementing all of their available resources. This knowledge was conveyed to everyone working on the project through the project discovery workshop and gave the team a comprehensive insight into what they were actually building.
Most of the people who use similar platforms in Bahrain belong to the working class. The expensive living conditions in the state meant that we had to make a platform that makes food both simple and affordable to access.
This process on its own was an adventure and some would argue that this was one of the most fun parts of the entire project. We initially divided the design process into two phases. This will lay the foundation for how the application will look and feel once we finish up the design process.
We were on a tight deadline, which meant that everything had to be put on the Fastlane and had to be done simultaneously. So, our team worked round the clock, on a busy 7 days a week working schedule, and they did this with remarkable enthusiasm. After the workshop, everyone was on the same page and was on-board with the client’s vision. Although the busy, 30-day working schedule was obviously exhausting, it didn’t get in the way of them producing maximum productivity.
Cloning and customization
We already had an extremely versatile and powerful food delivery application script under our arsenal, Eatzilla. It was the perfect starting point as it had performed successfully for all of our clients in the business the world over. The process of cloning the application script was pretty simple and straight forward, something a little more challenging was the customization. Both the client and we wanted it to be something different, something that Bahrain had never seen before, something exemplary. This drove us to include features that are subtle but extremely effective in an average user’s day to day usage. Some of the features included were:
- A guest checkout option: Meaning that even non-registered users could order their food with ease if they were in a hurry.
- A detailed restaurant status: This provides a real-time status update to the users on the availability of the restaurants. The status update shows Open/Closed/Busy.
- Multiple payment options: We included all kinds of electronic payment options through local online payment gateways and an added Cash on Delivery (CoD) option.
- Arabic language support: The platform is specifically for Bahrain, so it was obvious that we had to make the Arabic Language support available, along with all other popular languages.
- Notlob Credit and Wallet: We included an in-app credit system and wallet for easy payments. These credits can be used for promotional offers within the platform and for in-app purchases
The delivery app was developed for all platforms, iOS, Android, and Web, with dedicated apps and dashboards for users, restaurants, and the client. In about 10 days, notlob was born and was taking baby steps into its true form. The last 20 days of the development process was basically the addition of new features, especially for the restaurants. The 10th day was a milestone for the whole project because, after that point, everything was set up for live testing. After we crossed this milestone, the team simultaneously tested the applications for all platforms as changes were made
The realization of a vision
At the end of the 30-day marathon, our team was extremely happy that we had finally made the client’s vision into reality. It wasn’t easy, apart for the long working hours, we were amidst the pandemic, which didn’t make anything easier.
But the dream was clear and to us, it wasn’t just another project; their dream became our dream. And we created something that Bahrain had never experience before, not like this.
The app was released to the public in Jun 2020 and the first week it saw 5000 downloads with around 2.9k active users. The orders were averaging around 7 orders a day in the beginning which rose to 15 orders a day, within just a few days. Right now, the order count is roughly 20-50 orders a day and climbing.