5 Myths About Homeowners Association Websites
If your homeowners association is planning, or even just considering, the addition of a website for your community, you’re not alone. All across the United States, HOAs are going online, either because they want to use the benefits of a website for communication and marketing or because state law requires them to create a site for specific purposes. As you review and evaluate your homeowners association website software options, don’t let some common myths limit the success of your efforts.
Myth #1: Website development has to be expensive
Many HOA boards and administrators assume that to get what they want, they must fork over the big bucks for custom development and to keep their software up to date. “Won’t we have to hire a software developer and pay a lot of money to get a site that does what we really want?” board members ask each other. The moment money—especially a potentially large amount of it—enters the picture, HOAs understandably cringe at whatever expense they’re considering.
Now, no one disputes that some bargains are false bargains, but that doesn’t mean that good homeowners association website software options must be expensive. In fact, some options carry inflated price tags compared to what they offer in terms of customization, features, flexibility and convenience. Before you invest a penny of your HOA’s money in any form of online presence, verify the feature set that you’ll receive for what you’re paying and ensure that it matches up well with what you want your community website to accomplish.
Myth #2: Websites “just happen” without much planning
Sounds at least partially absurd when it’s put that way, doesn’t it, but truthfully, many HOAs begin the process of creating a community website without a clear vision of what they really need it to do. That’s assuming, of course, that most HOA boards and administrators have thought about what they want before they begin the process of setting up a website. In actuality, many of them think of this task as “Set up a website,” not as “Accomplish specific goals through a website.” That’s largely because they’re accustomed to seeing so many websites that convey static information but don’t do much to interact with visitors, beyond asking for an e-mail address to send requested information.
Before your homeowners association even begins investigating website software provider options, you need to figure out what you want to accomplish online. A static website probably isn’t going to cut it. Take the time to assess your needs, enumerate them, and get ready to accomplish your real goals.
Myth #3: Homeowners association websites are just for marketing
Maybe once upon a time, but not today. When a homeowners association sets up a website to accomplish 21st-century goals, they soon realize that simply marketing community values isn’t enough. The list of features you need grows pretty quickly once you begin contemplating it: communication with residents, management of architectural change requests, online billing of dues and fees, amenity reservations, member directories, a community calendar, and more.
But many HOAs don’t expect to find this sort of robust feature set in a website that they can afford. They assume that to get what they want, they’ll need to pay for custom development, and that the cost will exceed their budget. (Back to Myth #1.)
Myth #4: All HOA website software options are basically the same except for price
Once you and your board begin the process of researching homeowners association website opportunities, you may find too many alternatives to evaluate effectively. After a while, every option you investigate starts to look exactly like all the others that you’ve already researched. This is the point at which some HOAs decide to adopt the dartboard philosophy: “Let’s throw a dart and pick whichever option it lands on.”
The truth is that homeowners association website software providers couldn’t be more different from one another if they tried. Some options are built on legacy software code that requires an expensive redo to update it for today’s needs—not to mention tomorrow’s. Some providers offer a wide range of features, but all their sites look the same, except for the pictures, and none of them look modern. Other providers offer a big list of feature options, but include almost none of them in their basic package—and charge an arm and a leg to add them on to their standard offering.
Myth #5: The right HOA website software option simply doesn’t exist
That’s frustration talking, and understandably so. Given the challenges of establishing a list of desired features, researching homeowners association website software providers, and simply trying to navigate a process that is very unlike virtually all other decisions that HOAs have to make, many boards go back to the dartboard approach before they find the right option. Provider A offers great features, but their sites aren’t exciting to look at or particularly customized to individual communities. Provider B has the right features, but their pricing is out of reach. If Provider C were a car manufacturer, it would charge separately for the heater and the windshield wipers.
Tired of the myths and the challenges of finding the right solution? Guess what: It really does exist, and we offer it. We’re HOAStart, and everything we do is based on long experience working with homeowners associations to help them build, customize, and manage community websites that include all the features they want (and some they never even expected to find) at pricing they can afford. No cookie-cutter websites, extra charges for every feature, eye-popping prices, or outdated code.
Not only do we support communities like yours with the HOA website software you really need, but we start you off with a 30-day free trial so you can test out our software, audition it for your board and members, and not give us so much as a credit card number unless and until you’re sure that you’ve found the right solution for your homeowners association. No myths: Just great software, customer service, and support. Ready to get started? HOAStart is ready for you.