When emergency strikes you might find that your current website can’t handle the traffic that comes your way. Or you might want to create a new site that loads blazingly fast for anyone using even the slowest of mobile connections.
Setting up a new WordPress/Drupal/other CMS site probably isn’t the best solution for your needs in this case. They might look lovely and have great flexibility and functionality, but those benefits come at a cost of being quite big in terms of page size (i.e. loading time) and are likely to crash if the server they’re on is capable of handling 100,000 visitors a month but not necessarily 100,000 visitors or more in a day.
And in the UK we’re somewhat spoilt with our 4G network and generous data allowances on our mobile phone contracts. Elsewhere in the developing world, internet speeds are much slower and so the page size of your website pages really matter.
At the time of writing this post, the Unicef UK website weighs in at 4.4MB (you can test yours on a site like Pingdom speed test). It looks great, and it’s obviously not aimed at users in rural Africa with very limited bandwidth.
I really like this Emergency website starter kit by Max Bock. The example site isn’t much to look at, but it’s only 8KB in size – that’s 550 times smaller than the Unicef one. As I say, it’s a bit unfair to compare apples and oranges. The point is though, that modern web pages have become full of beautiful images, videos and interactive functionality. But there’s loads of opportunity to pare the design and functionality right back and prioritise the important content dissemination.
It’s ideal for conveying information in a simple, accessible way to a huge audience. It’s hosted directly on a CDN that will handle pretty much any traffic you can throw at it. I can imagine it being really useful in the wake of humanitarian or natural disasters, but I’m sure there’s lots of other uses for this approach.
A real-life site that uses a very similar setup is California’s official COVID-19 site which can receive millions of visits per day whilst remaining fast-loading and very accessible.
The setup for it is designed to be as easy as possible, but it’s still perhaps a bit daunting for some people. If it’s something you need to implement in a hurry then I’m happy to help set it up for you as I’m already a user of the platforms (Eleventy and Netlify) that it uses.