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NTcommunity: Connecting a community to support services

• 10 May 2024

Services used:

  • Website development
  • Digital advertising
  • Branding
  • SEO
  • Training and speaking
  • Video

Completion date:

March, 2021


Darwin, Northern Territory

Ntcommunity featured image featuring NT landscape

Who are NTcommunity?

NTcommunity is an online directory and app designed to connect people in the Northern Territory with community services near them, including disability, social engagement, and family support to name a few.

It is a project of the Northern Territory Council of Social Service, and funded by the Northern Territory Government through the Department of Territory Families, Housing and Communities.

Organisations across the Northern Territory list their services on the platform, allowing Territorians to easily find the support they need in one easy to navigate location.

As many community organisations in the NT are small NFPs, their only online presence is through NTcommunity. 

What was their problem?

The Northern Territory Council of Social Service (NTCOSS) wanted to make it easier for the local community to find the support they needed.

In order to do so, they needed to upgrade and invest in their existing online directory of organisations. Rather than focussing on listing organisations, NTCOSS realised they needed a list of services to meet the needs of those using the directory. 

Their needs

Accessible website and app 

Community consultation

Custom search function 

Branding and SEO 

Website maintenance 

What we did

In December 2017, we designed and developed the new NTCOSS website, including the first version of the directory, which was essentially an online version of NTCOSS's old paper member directory

For the next three years, the original NTCOSS Social Services Directory provided a valuable referral pathway for professionals to provide referral resources to members of the community, helping more than 73,000 Territorians find the organisations and support they needed. However, while intended for use by members, it was used by frontline workers as a referral channel. 

The creation of a stand-alone directory was always part of the larger vision to service the needs of the Northern Territory community, but it wasn’t set in stone. We carried out extensive user research, including forums and information sessions across Alice Springs, Katherine, and Darwin so we could prove the demand for a new directory. With our research in hand, we were able to bring our data and feedback to Territory Families.  

After securing the necessary funding, NTCOSS contracted Refuel Creative to develop this directory with a human centred development approach.


Refuel Creative worked with the NTCOSS to bring this new directory to life in a way that reflected the Territory spirit, and was easy to understand for a range of users.


We placed an emphasis on accessibility, ensuring that people living with disability, English as a second language, those living in remote locations, or with low literacy were able to use the directory. Accessibility is more than just a standard, so everything on the website was considered to provide maximum accessibility to all. 


In addition, rather than just helping Territorians find the right organisation they needed, the model was switched around to focus search on the outcome people were looking for. 


As there was an existing directory that had been in service for three years before we deployed the NTcommunity website and app, we had three years worth of feedback to factor into our platform development, alongside three years of ideas and improvements we wanted to deploy from our own testing

The initial brief of the project meant that we had to deal with six standard challenges.

  1. The first is that the website had to be used by all. That includes community sector workers, remote indigenous communities, people with low literacy, vision disabilities, or learning disabilities.  The site needed to be manageable, accessible, and usable by all.
  2. Second, the website had to be easily usable on a variety of devices, such as mobiles (even outdated ones), tablets, laptops, and desktops.
  3. Next, the site had to take its remote community into account. Some people don’t have consistent internet access, so we built an offline sync into the mobile app (something we discovered from the community consultation). Ryan handled the community consultation with their team, allowing Refuel to function as an extension of the NTCOSS team and get the feedback actioned into the new platform.
  4. As the site was used by organisations across the territory, we needed a solution that reminded these organisations to update their listing and maintain their page. This required us to work closely with the NTCOSS team to capture that community feedback was taken into account when creative, designing, and building their new app and website.
  5. In addition, if organisations had multiple locations or services, we needed an easy way to administer these services and highlight them.
  6. We also had to build and create categories and structures so that information across the directory was consistent. The Refuel developers had to create an extensive and largely custom search function for the platform to operate. Before this, the directory used a simple text field based on categories such as location. After deploying our custom search field, users were able to search for what they needed - not an organisation.

“Whether you are looking for housing support, children and families services, education, financial advice or mental health care, NTcommunity will let you know who can help. It is the first ever one-stop shop for Territory support services which, when coupled with the app, works both on and offline."

– Deborah Di Natale, former CEO of the NT Council of Social Service. 

The impact

From a starting position of zero, we developed a platform that was easy to update, find, and navigate. 

Our work for NTcommunity didn’t end with the development of the App and website. Due to the near frictionless operation between our in-house team and the NTCOSS team, we were trusted to continue to manage the app and website. This included aesthetic redesigns and bug fixes as the app continued to grow from 2021 to the present day, continuously improving the user experience on a regular basis. This was a result of measuring and gathering feedback that helped our team determine updates to improve usability and user experience.

After the initial launch of the new platform, we continued to work with NTCOSS to help them get more users onto the directory, while also supporting the upkeep and enhancement of the website and app. 


The results

Due to our SEO strategy and our paid marketing efforts, we managed to turn NTcommunity into the place where Territorians find their support services online.

There were 56,000 new users in 2023. The website currently gets more than 7300+ sessions and 11,200 engagements per month, making it a must-use for organisations across the Northern Territory.   

In conclusion

At Refuel Creative, we have a team with a wide range of strategic and creative skills. What started with the NTcommunity app and website development project has now grown into a full-fledged marketing and advertising gameplan. 

This project is a great example of our fully integrated approach and the results it achieves. It showed that our Refuel team could compete with the best. We were able to carry out community consultation, work with the steering committee, work alongside the organisation, take over their branding, marketing, training content; in addition to the upkeep, host, maintenance, improvements, and regular data reports we provided. 

Sam Hutchinson

Sam’s the resident writer and office DJ at Refuel. With a background in academia, journalism, and marketing, Sam can find the words our clients need to attract, engage, and convert those tricky leads.

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