3 Ways to Connect Your Residents With Your HOA Website
As a homeowners association administrator, you have no trouble understanding how a website can benefit your community. Depending on where you’re located, in fact, you may be required by law to establish an online property, and to make certain types of information about your community available through your website. But beyond the legal requirements and the “brochure-style” passive marketing that a site without interactivity can provide, you expect more from your website than just an online destination.
Once you find the HOA website software provider who can meet your expectations, you face two more challenges: setting up your site and convincing your residents to engage with it. Depending on the features your site software offers, you may find that it’s very easy to entice your residents to join and keep them in sync with your online initiatives. After all, you’ve put a lot of work into making that online property the ideal destination for information, solutions, and more, all with an eye to keeping your residents happily involved.
Educate residents about online benefits
If you involved your community in the decision to create or upgrade your homeowners association website, then you’ll have a much easier time convincing your members to join than if your website initiative only involved board members and administrators. When you get close to finishing the design and setup phases of site creation, it’s time to remind your residents about all of the good things your online destination can provide.
With the right homeowners association website software provider, that list of benefits can run to an impressive length. Here’s a few of the biggies (and if you’re considering website software that doesn’t offer these, you’ll wish you had them):
- Secure online payments. Skip the handwritten checks, the stamps and envelopes, and upgrade your payment processing to match what members probably already expect, based on their experience of online shopping. While you’re at it, remember that you’re saving yourself from countersigning all those checks and making deposits, either one at a time with your phone through online banking or at the end of a car trip to a bank branch.
- Easy access to community news and information. New residents and long timers alike will appreciate quick, straightforward access to info about everything from rules and regulations to events and celebrations. On top of that, remind everyone about the convenience of online access to essential documents via download.
- A robust, intuitive design that leaves the “Where-am-I?” confusion of management portals behind. Frankly, portals do more for management companies than they do for the communities these organizations serve, with confusing navigation and oddly labeled features that seems to ignore the needs of HOA communities more than serve them.
- Photo galleries that enable members to share images of community life and events, and that increase the sense of connection and neighborliness among your residents.
- The ability to designate virtually any page or page element either as publicly accessible to anyone who visits your website or as privately available only to members who sign up for website accounts and log in.
- A full ticketing system that simplifies the process of requests to modify or renovate property, and that makes the steps from review through approval as easy as a threaded onsite exchange of information and messages.
Invite residents to join
To enter member data into HOA website software, some setups limit you to two options: Type the information in yourself behind the scenes, one member at a time, or invite your members to sign up online and let them do the typing.
It’s not that those options don’t have their usefulness and value; rather, it’s that limiting you to those two choices leaves out the obvious convenience of entering member data into a templated spreadsheet file and uploading multiple members in one step. Sure, if your community is small, then manual entry may be no big deal, but in a large neighborhood with hundreds or even more than 1,000 properties, the manual approach takes too much time.
One even bigger advantage of data upload is data accuracy and standardization. If you enter member data one of the time, you run the risk of inconsistencies in the way that you record specific types of information. For example, you may spell out the names of streets and their directionals when you begin typing in information, but midway through the process, you may realize that you’ve switched from spelled out to abbreviated. What begins as “123 West Main Street” may become “456 W. Main St.” as you progress. When you enter your data in a spreadsheet, you can proofread and look for inconsistencies within one continuous flow of file information—which is much easier to manage than many individual records.
Engage residents and prospects through your site
You want your website to enhance your residents’ sense of connection with their neighborhood and their neighbors, and conjure up the enjoyments of community life for people who consider making your development their home. The combination of content and communication goes a long way toward engaging residents in neighborhood affairs and marketing the benefits of community life to prospective members.
But to make those all-important connections with the residents you already have, you need to convince them to sign up for site membership. Even if you’ve already input their information into the homeowners association website software, they must visit the site, create a password, and complete the signup process.
When you choose the right software provider, you can message your entire list of residents simultaneously, with a few clicks and the selection of a checkbox that activates a password-setting invitation via e-mail. Better still, you can limit the distribution of that e-mail message only to people who have not yet logged in, so you and your fellow admins don’t wind up receiving confusing e-mail messages that invite you to do something you’ve already done.
Additionally, a responsive HOA website software provider will offer you the option of a customized document you can send to your residents, one that explains the benefits of membership, outlines the process of signing up, and paves the way for everyone.
The bottom line of all these options is quite simple: You want a homeowners association website software provider that puts you first, rather than assuming that whatever they design will meet your needs. You want thoughtful, easy-to-use features, a cohesive help system, and an onboarding process that walks you through the software and gets you ready to succeed.
At HOA Start, we’ve built those features and many more into our software, based on years of experience working with HOAs of every size and in every part of the country. Sign up for a completely free 15-day trial and see how our homeowners association website software can put your community ahead—and maximize your residents’ involvement.