Disaster Preparedness: Is Your Website Ready?

For Savannah and coastal business owners, making sure your website is ready for an emergency should be a top priority. In the event of an evacuation or long-term consequences, your website is the immediate communication center for your customers, employees, and partners.

prepareIn the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, it's important for individuals and businesses to re-assess their disaster planning.

Obviously, the protection of life is the primary goal in any disaster plan. In your extended planning for business assets, make sure to include a communication plan that hinges directly on your website. To be effective, coastal business websites must have the specifications to serve as a communication center for your most critical assets: customers, employees, and partners.

The first step in preparedness is having a website powered by a Content Management System (CMS). Many of Heideldesign's customers use Movable Type or a custom-built CMS tailored for their needs. Web-based CMS software allows you to update your website's content from anywhere with an internet connection. In some cases, you can even use your mobile phone to create news items, edit inventory, and broadcast essential messages.

The second step is having a webserver that has a backup "mirror" or is located outside of a disaster-prone geographical area. After all, if power is out in your host's location, they may only have a limited amount of generator or backup time. You need your website to continue through the crisis and beyond.

The information that you provide on your website during a time of emergency is critical to your ongoing success. Depending on your industry, you may want to focus your messages at any combination of three key demographics: Customers, Employees, and Partners.

Customers need to know your plans. If you have a storefront, when will it re-open? If you rely on mailorder, will shipments be postponed? This constant line of communication builds customer trust.

Employees need to know the official, company line. This is so they may give correct information to customers as well as make plans for their own safety in accordance to company policy and guidelines. On your website, you can publish the dates for critical needs staff to return to work, how to apply for benefits, or organizations that can provide assistance to employees that need it.

In times of struggle, business partners can often be your biggest assets. Use your website to network and find local organizations with whom you can share resources. Let your contractors know your plans and the steps you are taking to resume normal operations.

Again, website preparedness should only be a small part of your business' disaster plan. The benefits of having a constant line of communication throughout a crisis could prove the lifeboat to sail your business through the storm.

If you would like more information on how to prepare your website for an emergency, contact Heideldesign.