We Launched a Website for the Vatican Challenge in One Week. Here’s How We Did It

“The only future worth building is one that includes everyone.” In a historical moment, Pope Francis recently issued a revolutionary encyclical Laudato Si (see a TED talk about it here) calling upon humanity to work together to stop climate change. To implement this vision, he also launched a global challenge inviting startups to try and solve the climate change crisis where the winners would receive funding and also be relocated to a special accelerator based out of the Vatican. Fifth Tribe answered the Pope’s call by helping to build the website for the challenge — -in less than one week. Here’s the story of how we did it.


We were tasked to launch a project for a huge global initiative, with one of the world’s most prestigious institutions, with only a week to spare, that was to be showcased during a special mass ceremony lead by Pope Francis’ second hand man, Cardinal Turkson at the Vatican. No pressure right?

Here’s How We Did It

  1. Start with A User Journey Map (T-168 hours to launch)

When starting any project we have to understand who will be using this site, what information do they need and what action should they take. After collecting all of that information we distilled it to who will be the primary user and use that as the baseline when creating our content, wireframe and final design.

2. Build the Brand(T-144 hours to launch)

With our primary user — social entrepreneurs and their content needs identified we quickly created content hierarchy:

  • What is the main call to action, how will we grab the attention of busy entrepreneurs?
  • Should we use $1m in potential funding available, mention a grand challenge? Should we use the picture of Pope Francis?

We decided that including the imagery of Pope Francis was necessary for branding purposes. But without mentioning an accelerator or funding how would an entrepreneur know this site was for them and not the non-profit or advocacy community traditionally associated with the Laudato Si brand? To solve that content quagmire we asked to change the name from Laudato Si Challenge to the Laudato Si Startup Challenge. Now from the name it was clear the Laudato Si brand is now speaking to startups and allowed for a content hierarchy to naturally flow down to the call to action.

3. Create A Wireframe (T-96 hours to launch)

Based on the content hierarchy, call to action we created a wireframe, but since this was for the Pope himself we wanted to create some interaction, introduce play into the experience to ensure a superb user experience. We went back to our inspiration and had a quick ideation session. From there we took a flat scrolling page, you know the 99% of websites, to an interactive journey for entrepreneurs.

4. Iterate Quickly (T-72 hours to launch)

This is the execution time, with only 72 hours left we had not time to spare so we did the following to increase speed, testing, and user experience:

  • Prototype Custom Interactions: We built responsive prototypes during the wireframe phase so we work out the user experience and mobility and ensure it was ready for time of launch.
  • All Hands on Deck (really keyboards): Had everyone on the team, even me a novice HTML CSS3 person (can’t really call myself a developer yet!) update the text and images.

5. Iterate based on feedback (T-12 hours to launch)

As we developed, we did continuous deployment of the website and were able to get quick feedback from the team in the Vatican. I was in Rome so that helped to get instant feedback and implement changes in real time to ensure we created a site that the Vatican would be happy with. This also meant no sleep for a few days, good thing Italian espresso is the real deal!


We successfully launched the site and had over 20 applicants the first week and Cardinal Turkson blessed our work! We look forward to seeing and supporting the solutions that will come out of this monumental challenge.

About Fifth Tribe
Based out of the Washington DC Metropolitan area, Fifth Tribe is a digital agency that empowers visionaries to launch bold ideas through our ground-breaking solutions. We specialize in providing product development, branding, web/mobile development, and digital marketing consultations to top industry leaders in the Government, Healthcare, Finance, and Social Impact sectors. Our client list includes Oxfam, Kaiser Permanente, Ernst and Young, the U.S. Air Force, INOVA, the Hult Prize, the Department of Defense, and more. To learn more, visit www.fifthtribe.com.

Adam Motiwala

Certified in Agile Scrum and Design Thinking, Adam Motiwala is a Product Owner at Fifth Tribe. He has launched digital products with clients across multiple industries such as healthcare (Kaiser Permanente, INOVA, Aetna Innovation Health), finance (KPMG, Guidance Residential, Wahed Invest), NGOs (Oxfam America, AARP Foundation, the Vatican Accelerator, the Hult Prize, Silatech), government (Department of Defense, the U.S. Air Force, Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Peace Corps), and education (Mississippi Public University). Adam is currently leading a project to help AARP launch a web application in over 30 states across the country that will assist over 10 million low income seniors with learning and applying for property tax credits. He serves as startup mentor at Seed Spot and the Hult Prize accelerator and has been featured in Thrillist, technical.ly, and Arlington Now.