The East Coast of the United States, in particular my home state of New Jersey, was severely damaged by Hurricane Sandy and then 7 days later hit again by Nor-Easter Athena. Much of the state was left without power for several days which caused a domino effect of even more life-threatening problems statewide. The world-renowned "Jersey Shore" will never be the same, especially since much of the shoreline is gone, including famous and historical amusement piers.
Some of the devastation, shown in these before and after photos, can never be repaired: http://ow.ly/feFXU
During the long days of blackouts, many people were charging their smartphones in their cars. Much of the communications throughout New Jersey were forced onto mobile devices. Emergency messages were posted to news websites, Facebook pages, community boards, and just about anywhere else online that people might look for information.
One of the jewelry stores I work with announced on their Facebook page that they had power and invited people to come to the store to charge their phones. Another jeweler I work with invited their customers to bring in red gasoline containers one morning with the offer to drive round-trip to an area of the state where gas stations had power and were operating.
Although I can't speak for everyone, I have to assume that those living through the storm and subsequent disaster were not aware of how many emergency services, news organizations, and insurance companies scrambled to modify their website home pages before, during, and right after the storm. This is where a mostly misunderstood website technology probably saved the lives of a lot of people.
Many of the Emergency Services organizations already had safety information written and available on their website long before the hurricane season even started. As the storm approached I saw several of these websites redirect people to this safety information automatically instead of requiring mobile users to dig for it on their own.
Many local towns, gas companies, electric companies, rescue squads, police departments, and fire departments across the region were automatically redirecting people to this emergency information. With limited time, internet bandwidth, and most importantly, battery power, these automatic website redirects to up-to-date information helped a lot of people.
The technology I'm talking about is called a "302 Redirect." It allows a website to temporarily relocate information on a website. When most web programmers talk about "website redirects" they are usually referring to "301 Redirects" which is how you would point someone to a new web page when you restructure your website or publicly delete a single page.
Widespread uses of a 302 are rarely seen outside of marketing purposes. In daily practical uses, the 302 is best employed as a way to run A/B split testing. Split testing allows you to show 2 variations of a landing page to an equal number of people so you can measure marketing ideas. But that's not how the 302 was used during the storm.
Instead of deleting and reformatting home pages, I saw several websites activating 302 redirects to safety procedures and emergency information. It only took a few minutes to activate and it was probably already preprogrammed as an emergency switch on each website. As life started to return to some semblance of normalcy in New Jersey, these websites just needed to deactivate the switch to have their home pages also return to normal.
The 302 redirect feature is available on any website; you just need to have your programmer write the simple code for you.
The recent storm illustrated how useful the 302 could be because you can prepare any information ahead of time and have it waiting for the right moment to appear. The reason I chose to tell you about the 302 today is because you can take this feature and apply it to your jewelry store website for the holiday season.
You should gather all your ads and post them to special pages on your website, even if only in your blog. Then on the day your ad appears in traditional media, you could 302 redirect your home page to the special preprogrammed page. You would only need to redirect it for one or two days and then deactivate the 302.
Other than for marketing purposes, you could also create special store closing announcements and have them hiding somewhere on your site. Storms and tragedies do happen; it's part of the life we all live. Plan ahead for power outages, storms, parades, funerals, and even for perfect weather that you simply want to put out that "gone fishing" sign. When the time comes it will only take you a few seconds to activate your own temporary 302.