Navigating Crisis: Developing a Scalable Platform for Crisis Information



Signpost is an interagency project that creates digital help centers to empower people impacted by conflict, disasters, poverty and violence. Driven by community needs, these help centers allow clients to access essential services and make informed decisions on the issues that matter most to them.

Project Overview

In collaboration with Signpost, our team undertook a transformative project to create a master Zendesk theme and deploy it across 15 Zendesk sites in multiple countries across Central Europe. The objective was to streamline the process of launching new Zendesk sites, ensuring a consistent and efficient user experience for populations affected by the Ukrainian refugee crisis.

Multilingual Design
Web Development

Project Mandate

People affected by humanitarian crises and natural disasters often find themselves confronted with pivotal, life-altering decisions as they navigate the challenges of such events to adapt and survive. Regardless of their position along the journey to safety, people and families grapple with a myriad of perplexing questions:

  • If I decide to leave my home with my children, where can we find shelter between our current location and the displacement camps?
  • What financial assistance programs are available to support us during this challenging time?
  • Is there a means to obtain necessary medication for my son’s diabetes both en route and upon arrival?

Regrettably, the humanitarian sector frequently falls short in consistently providing reliable and responsive information tailored to the diverse needs arising during crises. Many existing communication approaches either rely heavily on centralized providers, have brief lifespans, or are excessively specific, lacking scalability.

Enter Signpost, a groundbreaking initiative poised to tackle these challenges through community-driven initiatives on a global scale. In a pioneering approach, Signpost collaborates with leading technology companies to establish a network of social media channels and websites that disseminate information products and facilitate interactive communication. Implemented by local teams, Signpost programs are designed to be adaptable, ensuring relevance within the unique context of each community it serves. This innovative model marks a significant stride towards bridging the information gap and fostering more effective crisis response mechanisms.


Creation of Master Zendesk Theme

Working with the Signpost team, we kicked off the project with the creation of a master Zendesk theme , which served as a pivotal step in standardizing the design and functionality across multiple sites. This involved:

  1. Assessment and Requirements Gathering:
    • Comprehensive discussions with the Signpost team to understand the specific needs and requirements of the Zendesk sites.
    • Identification of common design elements, functionalities, and branding guidelines to ensure uniformity.
  2. Design and Development:
    • Leveraging Zendesk’s theming capabilities, our team designed a master theme that incorporated the identified elements and adhered to branding specifications.
    • Implementation of responsive design principles to ensure optimal user experience across various devices and screen sizes.
  3. Customization and Flexibility:
    • Integration of customization options within the master theme to allow for site-specific adjustments without compromising the overall consistency.
    • Consideration of scalability to accommodate future updates and modifications.
  4. Testing and Iteration:
    • Rigorous testing of the master theme to ensure compatibility with Zendesk’s native content management system and adherence to design specifications.
    • Iterative refinement based on feedback from the Signpost team to achieve the desired look and feel.
  5. Documentation:
    • Comprehensive documentation of the master theme, including guidelines for customization and troubleshooting.
    • Training sessions for the Signpost team to familiarize them with the theme’s features and management.
  6. Multilingual Design:One critical feature is Signpost’s commitment to a multilingual design, ensuring that users can access information in their languages. Signpost programs are implemented by local teams and adapted to fit their unique context. This multilingual design enhances the accessibility of vital information for diverse communities, recognizing the importance of linguistic diversity in effective crisis communication. As a result, Signpost not only bridges the information gap but also acknowledges and respects the linguistic diversity of the populations it serves


Once the master Zendesk theme was finalized, the deployment phase commenced, involving the launch of 15 Zendesk sites across Central Europe.

  1. Workflow Implementation:
    • Integration of the master theme into a structured deployment workflow to ensure consistency in site creation.
    • Collaboration with the Signpost team to align the deployment process with their goals and timelines.
  2. Consecutive Site Launches:
    • Methodical launch of multiple Zendesk sites consecutively throughout the summer, ensuring a phased and controlled rollout.
    • Ongoing collaboration with the Signpost team to address any issues or adjustments needed during the deployment.
  3. Quality Assurance:
    • Continuous quality assurance testing to verify that each deployed site adhered to the master theme’s design and functionality standards.
    • Quick response to and resolution of any issues that arose during the deployment phase.
  4. User Training and Support:
    • Provision of training sessions for the Signpost team on managing and updating the Zendesk sites using the master theme.
    • Ongoing support and documentation to empower the Signpost team to handle routine tasks independently.


Signpost’s expansion into addressing the Ukrainian refugee crisis underscores its commitment to providing critical information during humanitarian crises. The collaboration with a dedicated vendor ensures the swift and effective deployment of Zendesk Guide sites, ultimately contributing to the program’s success in supporting and empowering those affected by the crisis.