State Emergency Services (2015)

State Emergency Services NSW

Senior Designer

Adelphi Digital

The purpose of the website for the NSW SES is to provide clear, concise advice on what to do before, during and after extreme weather events, to plan for and deal with emergencies and their aftermath. There was plenty of awareness of the NSW SES as an emergency service but little of their role in the prevention of and preparation for natural disasters. The digital platform didn’t reflect the rest of the NSW SES media messaging or change its messaging to respond to current situations. The research stated a need to prompt the community to take action and educate on shared responsibility and to raise the awareness. 

The site had to change the community expectation of NSW SES, to promote community resilience and to promote NSW SES as a first choice agency for emergency response volunteering and career. Our team completed a significant user centred design process involving discovery research which enabled us to supply the organisation with a medium to offer critical information before, during and after significant weather events and natural disasters. The responsive site features automated feed of information based on their location.

Extending the idea that the site should adapt both content and layout to emergencies allowed us to reflect the life cycle of users engagements with the SES:

Before – Understand risks local to you and plan appropriately
During – Get current appropriate and actionable information, act at the right time
After – Check for damage, assist with the recovery, volunteer!

The UX needed to be tuned to put access to the emergency phone numbers, useful actionable information at the absolute centre of the experience during times of emergency and also to provide guidance and help in the aftermath.

Homepage takeovers for warnings of extreme danger and a map driven interface for alerts and bulletins were the result of multiple design iterations,from sketch through to a fully interactive prototype that was put through multiple rounds of user testing both inside SES and out. Likewise the content displayed by default on the homepage can be switched from Plan and Prepare to During Bad Weather or Recovery, providing clear access to the before during and after information.

UX was crafted around 5 personas that represented both the community and the organisation informed through careful user research. Tasks and user journeys focused on the needs of safety, information, volunteering and education aligning the needs of the organisation very clearly with that of the users.


Considering the brand guidelines didn’t touch on the digital executions I started exploring the design direction. This consisted of a collection of UI components, typeface, icons, images and layout treatments which would set the look of the website. To extend this style and make sure it works for the project I mocked up a few example pages (Home, Emergency and Standard content page) which used real content applied with the new style. Working together with the developers, we were also testing and improving the way the site worked. We developed a lo-fi prototype which then turned into a working prototype which allowed us to test and improve the functionality of the site.




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