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Crafting a site and content strategy for Ireland’s COVID-19 Tracker app

by Livia Hirsch

As countries take steps to reopen borders and society it is essential to have robust contact tracing systems in place to slow the spread of coronavirus. The Health Service Executive (HSE) in Ireland commissioned a COVID Tracker mobile app to help speed up contact tracing. However, creating the app is only one part of the overall process, another crucial aspect is raising awareness. This is where Dept stepped in. Together with HSE, we developed the messaging around the app and designed and built a website and initial social media campaign to promote and explain the app to the entire Irish population.

Building a scalable website infrastructure in one week

As Ireland’s public health service provider, the HSE coordinates resources and efforts across eleven regions. To help slow the spread of Covid-19 and protect the entire population, the healthcare provider worked with an app developer to create a contact tracing app. The app harnesses Bluetooth technology to improve and speed up contact tracing. The Dept team stepped in to coordinate efforts with the HSE to create a website, write accessible content, and draft social media assets to explain and promote the app to the general public, the media and other stakeholders.

Using Microsoft Azure to ensure rapid delivery

Together with HSE, we choose to create the website on a separate domain and server from the organisation’s main website so as to not overload it with high traffic levels. So, using Vue.js, an open-source JavaScript framework, we quickly built the new website and ensured it delivered the best experience possible while also being mobile-friendly. It was deployed on Microsoft Azure which enabled our DevOps team to continuously integrate and deploy the code. We also implemented an Imperva Content Delivery Network to cache content across the entire website. This reduced the load on the server thus ensuring stability and scalability of the site. As speed was of the essence, the site was built and deployed in a week’s time.

Designing a distinctive visual identity

Given the urgency of the project, our designers quickly created a visual identity inspired by the design of the app. The goal was to deliver a simple but distinctive suite of digital assets for use across web and social. It was crucial that the design be flexible so that it could be adapted across all media channels while not sacrificing brand consistency. This is why we choose to go with a more minimalistic website design that complemented the existing COVID-19 public information campaign brand without overwhelming the user.

A content strategy which caters to the entire population

Thanks to the rapid construction of the website, our content team, together with the HSE digital team, was able to focus more time and energy on creating a content strategy. As the goal was to have the app downloaded by all adults in Ireland the messaging needed to reassure the general public about its value, privacy and ease of use. We needed to convince the public that downloading and using the app is something everyone needed to do together to help slow the spread of the virus.

Through intensive, collaborative writing and decision making between the Dept and HSE content writers, we transformed technical, privacy and public health-related information into clear, consistent messaging and language. As the website targeted the entire country, the content needed to be readable and accessible by all. Using plain English, the content explains why people should download and use the COVID Tracker app while clearly addressing its impact on people’s privacy and data.

However, not only did the written content need to be understandable, but it also needed to ensure the website could be easily found. So using SEO best practices, we optimised the text and titles to ensure the website would rank high in search engines.

Respecting the highest privacy standards

The roll-out of Ireland’s coronavirus contact tracing app was set against a background of media scrutiny and privacy concerns around the technology involved. So it was crucial that any content created addressed and reassured the general public about data and privacy issues. Therefore, an approach of transparency and clearness was adopted when crafting the content while also providing access to the original documentation to ease general concerns.

We also ensured the new site complied with GDPR regulations and the Data Protection Commission guidelines regarding cookie management and privacy. This ensured that we developed processes which prioritised privacy-by-default while winning over the public trust.

Crafting a countrywide social media campaign

To ensure the app reached the most people once launched, our team created social media assets to be used across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. The aim of the social campaign was to raise awareness while also encouraging users to download the app via a strong call to action. Using branding principles from the website and the government covid-19 campaign, we created stills and animations that featured an image of the app and a strong call to action to download the app and help slow the spread.

A countrywide launch

By tackling the challenge of raising awareness for Ireland’s Covid-19 Tracker app in a 360-degree manner, our team was able to deliver quality content that focuses on transparency and public reassurance design in a simple and effective website. By creating a recognisable look for the app that built on the overall government Covid public information brand, we ensured the general public recognised and remembered the HSE’s message.


Content Creation
Content Strategy
Social campaign
digital marketing
privacy & security