Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue

Creating clarity for HD

Project overview

Having maintained their previous website since 2020, we had already developed a good relationship with the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue (HD) when we started work on their new website in 2021.

HD works to prevent and resolve armed conflicts around the world through mediation and discreet diplomacy. With peacemaking projects across the world, it’s vital that their online presence is accessible, clear and mindful of the delicate nature of their work. We’re really proud to have created their new website, which now subtly showcases who they are and what they do.


  • Delicately designed
  • Multi-language site
  • Interactive map
  • Improved search filters
  • Captivate podcast integration



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Deep Dive Discovery

As with all of our projects, we began with our discovery process. The first step was to engage HD’s stakeholders, which we did through surveys and conversations. This ensures that all views are considered before getting started.

Once we’d gathered this information, it was easy to see the thread running through all those we spoke to—a need for clarity. There was a need for the new website to be accessible, and to clearly explain what it is that HD does.

Clarity for whom?

It was great to see that all stakeholders were aligned. We quickly moved on to the next stage – learning about HD’s audience. At Wholegrain, we take a user-centred approach to website design. This means putting the users and their needs first.

We identified and defined personas for a series of target user groups, including policy makers, donors, and the wider peace sector. By understanding what their motivations are for visiting the website, we can ensure that deliver the correct content for their needs.

It became apparent that our biggest design and content strategy challenge would be providing the right amount of content without revealing too much about HD. The nature of their work – mediation in areas of armed conflict – is naturally sensitive. So, how do we build trust with the user without giving away too much?

Delicately Designed

Given the delicate nature of the work HD does, it was important to reflect this in the design, keeping it soft and subtle. Our designer, Chânelle, achieved this by keeping the site minimal, with clean lines and plenty of white space.

To make sure the site was still impactful, she chose to use a Grotesque font accompanied with the bright accent colours of HD’s brand. This made the overall look bold enough to reflect the work that HD does, yet also subtle enough to retain the level of discreet professionalism that they are known for in their field.

This perfect balance means that HD’s new site design will remain timeless for years to come.

“It was a joy to work with the HD team on this new website. The new subtle design is one of my all-time favourites. I love how it really meets the clients’ challenge of simplicity and discretion. The very nature of HD’s work requires a delicate touch, and we’re really proud of what we’ve delivered.”

Nick Hart, Production Manager

Where in the world?

One of the key things that both the HD team and their users wanted more clarity on is where in the world they work, and what they do that makes a difference.

Of course, as a global organisation, the first and most important way to ensure the website is accessible to all is to make it available in as many languages as possible. We achieved this by creating a mutli-language site, allowing HD to upload content in languages specific to the areas they work in.

For a quick overview of the areas HD work in, there was a map on the homepage, but how this linked to the centre’s projects wasn’t clear. To provide clarity, and make it easy to navigate the site, we upgraded to an interactive map, with subtly animated numbered ‘pins’ that fade on hover and, when clicked, take the user straight to a synopsis of what the centre is doing in that part of the world.

Accessible Resources

As well as running their own peacemaking projects, the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue also creates and shares a wide range of resources to support mediators in their work. 

To ensure that these resources are easily accessible to all those who could benefit from them, we created an Insights section on the new website, with dynamic search filters, which allow users to filter the resources by region, type and topic.

Showcasing HD’s captivating stories

In recent years, HD have had great success with their podcast series, particularly The Mediators’ Studio. This fascinating podcast takes you behind closed doors with riveting stories and insights from prominent peacemakers on what it takes to end wars and other violent conflicts.

HD use Captivate to host their podcasts, so to reduce the workload for the team, we integrated Captivate with the new website. This integration pushes new podcast episodes, with show notes and further information, directly to the site.

We’re really proud to have created this simple, yet impactful design, which really showcases the amazing work that HD is doing.

Thank you so much for your creative vision, technical expertise, hard work and great sense of patience and humour. You are fabulous creatures.

John O'Callaghan - Head Of Communications - Centre for Humanitarian

John O’Callaghan