Dark Website During a Crisis

The dark website. It is not what you think. It is not something sinister, but something necessary for many organizations. A dark site is a prebuilt website specifically designed for a crisis situation that can be turned on at a moment’s notice. A dark website is designed to enhance the online customer experience by providing essential information preserving or enhancing an organization’s reputation during a crisis such as a weather event, recall, or any event affecting public safety.

Depending the magnitude of the crisis, your organization may want to create a crisis-specific URL that directs users to the organizational website, where official information is disseminated. This will make it easier for people searching for information to find your information.

Depending on your industry, you may need to consider having a dark site ready to go. Normally an organization’s website is there to promote the company and its services/products, and a dark site is to there to provide factual, timely information. Examples of a good use of a dark site would be during a food or manufacturing recall. Think Dole bagged salad or Blue Bell ice cream recalls. Or the local power utility going live with a dark website during a hurricane or ice storm.

As in the iconic TV show Dragnet might say, a dark site provides “just the facts, ma’am.”

A dark site should contain available and confirmed facts about the situation, special instructions for those affected, what is being done, pertinent background information, contact information for public and media, and digital content such as photos and video. It can be customized based on the specific crisis.

Typically, a dark site is specific to a brand; however, it is recommended to keep the design simple.The dark website must be responsive allowing it to be seen well on all types of mobile devices. Utility companies often use a dark site during major outages or natural disasters and have prepaid advertising ready to go when a situation happens. They are good examples to model after.

In addition to having a dark site, remember to keep social media accounts active during a crisis event. People are going to go to the digital platforms they use regularly to get information. The organization must be updating and responding to customers or media on social media. You can direct customers to the dark website. To learn more about communicating on social media during a crisis or disaster, visit here.

If your organization is an industry where public safety is affected by your product or service, then having a dark website ready to go online during a crisis maybe a smart move.

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