One of the largest online food delivery aggregators.

    Having been founded in 2009, the service reached the monthly order rate of 3 million in 2019. As of April 2021, the platform consolidates deliveries from over 43 thousand restaurants in 316 cities.

    Project idea

    We never wait for life to happen

    We had the idea to collaborate even before the Client was aware of their need for that. It’s not easy to stand by when the project is so awesome and the mobile app’s not so much.

    Within three days, we designed three screens and built a prototype for Android. In essence, it was a mini version of the finished mobile app — with animations and screens you could switch between, though without any raw data.

    Armed with the prototype and the question “Is that what you want?”, we contacted the potential client. The daring move and the efforts right from the start brought us pure victory.

    The first version was designed based on the prototype. A new app was built from scratch. In cooperation with the Client’s backend team, we developed and tested the API.


    Android starts and wins

    Launching the Android app required more attention — that’s why we started the development with Google technologies. The same refers to the first tablet versions of the app. The Android app was first released in November 2013.

    The mobile design was as close to the brand book as possible, i.e., Material Design, with every element given volume and shadows.

    iOS development

    The first versions of the iOS app were released back in the days of skeuomorphism with its typical 3D elements, gradients, and highlights.

    In September 2013, Jony Ive demonstrated to the world a flat iOS 7, and we promptly redesigned the UI and have been using Flat since then: extremely flat, elements filled with solid colors, and no shadows.

    Our iOS department grew along with this project.

    Along with the two leading platforms, the company had an app for Windows Phone, also built by us.

    iPads and other tablets

    Any client-centric company takes into account the difference in layouts between various types of devices. In 2014, tablets underwent rapid growth in popularity and the phones were still small. Unlike smartphones, tablets had higher resolution, a different side menu, and a different aspect ratio.

    The tablet version of the app had two screens merged into one. In other words, the list of dishes was displayed on the left and a dish screen on the right. This involves an in-depth adaptation of the app, which is costly to develop and support.

    Continuous improvement

    For the service to operate smoothly, it’s crucial to upgrade the mobile interface continuously. After all, this is where users interact with the service. No coding wonders can save an ill-designed UI. Moreover, at that time the Client’s team was among the first to advertise their app on TV. This meant that our work was in the spotlight with millions of people watching.

    Over the two years, loads of features were added to the app. Among those were referral programs, various payment methods, and push notifications. Following MVP, we updated the app every 2–4 weeks until the project was transferred to the in-house team.

    New routes: Deep Linking

    The referral program for partner restaurants was implemented using a deep link technology that allows users to switch between apps and websites and into predefined sections. The partner referral code was embedded in QR codes on tables. Whenever users went to the app by scanning the QR code, they got bonus points or a discount for an online order from a partner of the restaurant.

    The deep link allows users to go deeper than the home page. It contains information about the entry screen and, if necessary, some extra information, such as the name of a partner restaurant.

    Improved payment experience

    In-app payment card processing is subject to certification according to PCI-DSS data security standards. In 2013, we integrated payment with cards of different banks (those that have PCI-DSS) into the mobile app. It means that users had to enter their card information on a bank’s web page.

    Alfa Bank customized the web page design to match the app design seamlessly and saved card data for each user (if they agreed to it) so they wouldn’t have to enter it all over again with every order.


    Clean code legible to anyone

    Our collaboration with the Client ended in 2015 when the project was bought by a German food delivery service, for $50 million. By then, the mobile app channeled 70% of orders, thus becoming a strategic business asset.

    Before the deal was closed, our code went through a comprehensive audit carried out by German experts. In the end, the product was quickly and properly transferred — due to our approach to development based on Clean Architecture: we document all code in detail so that a new team has no trouble adapting to the project.

    I’d like to express my warmest thanks to Surf for the app.


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    Vladi Makeew

    CEO of Surf
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