5 Ways to Plan Ahead and Make Your HOA Website Project a Success
So you’re getting ready to build a website for your homeowners association. Maybe you haven’t had one before, or maybe you’re dissatisfied with the one you already have. To ease the process of building your site, get ahead of the game with these simple organizational steps that will speed up the process and help make it a smooth success.
Tidy up your member data
HOA websites are database driven. That means that at some point, you need to add specific information about each of your members, information that’s organized behind the scenes by the software that powers your homeowners association website.
HOAs track their members through a variety of systems, some more organized and effective than others. If you’re still using paper records, you’ll need to digitize the information on them so you can add it to your website. If your records already exist in digital files, but they’re scattered among several thumb drives and various computers, you’ll need to pull them all together so you can use them effectively.
You’re also going to need a clean, well-organized set of data to make a member import process work smoothly. If one of your spreadsheets lists members’ first and last names in a single cell and another breaks the first and last names apart, you’ll need to standardize your information – and the ideal way to do that is to break things up logically.
What’s logical? Typically, that means making information more granular, not less. In other words, one spreadsheet column for first names and another for last names. One spreadsheet column for street addresses, another for city, still another for state, and a fourth for ZIP Codes.
But before you start making decisions about how to organize your data, download a copy of the import template your homeowners association website software provider uses to add data to websites. If you’re going to import member information, you’ll need to organize your information the way your HOA website software expects to see it. Remember that these processes are very single minded. They look for data in a specific order, with columns labeled in a specific way, and with no extraneous information in the file. If your data don’t match what your website expects to import, you’ll need to reformat your information to match the website, not the other way around.
Identify and organize your documentation
Every homeowners association generates a large number of informational files, and those documents pile up year after year. These include covenants, community rules, forms for obtaining everything from pool access to storage space and boat slips, meeting minutes, and so on. Your homeowners association website software should provide you with a document storage area you can use like an online file system, to organize your materials in logically named folders and make these resources accessible to the public or—in specific cases—private for members-only use.
Look for the ability to upload multiple files simultaneously, so you don’t need to instigate an upload process for each individual document. You want to be able to drag and drop documents to organize them after you’ve uploaded them, rename files once they’re online, and otherwise organize these materials as you see fit.
Picture your community
Nothing says community spirit and curbside appeal like pictures of real life in your neighborhoods. Before you build your new website, you’ll want to pull together an attractive set of HOA images.
First, you’ll need to use them as illustrative material on the various pages of your website. Second, you’ll probably want to build one or more photo galleries—public or private—that show off all the fun you have at block parties and events, how attractive your neighborhoods look, and all the other aspects of what makes your community unique.
If you’re located on a lake, you’ll want to show off all the fun your residents have on the water. If you’re known for the beauty of your community gardens or forested areas, you’ll want to maximize the visibility of your natural appeal. If your HOA offers special amenities for residents, you’ll want to showcase those features so they entice prospects and remind residents of all the enjoyment you can have right at home.
Organize yourself some help
Depending on the size of your community and the amount of work involved in running it, you may need to share the work with additional administrators. You also may want to consider delegating specific pieces of the job to individuals whom you grant partial administrative access. Look for homeowners association website software that includes the ability to designate subsidiary administrators with defined subsets of full administrative access.
Plan your approach to ARC requests
One of the essential benefits of living in a community with a homeowners association is the work your HOA does to help maintain property values and preserve the attractiveness of your neighborhoods. You need to ensure that your residents plan and execute renovations and remodeling projects that comply with your covenants, but at the same time, you also want to make it easy for them to inquire about their projects, obtain approval, and move forward.
With the right homeowners association website software, you can maintain this entire process through an online ticketing system that enables you to accept homeowner requests, along with supporting documentation. You want to organize your communication so all the discussion between administrators and residents remains organized and cohesive in a single ticket that preserves every detail. You also want to be able to add comments that are visible only to fellow administrators, so all of you can discuss the member’s request privately and still preserve the unified ARC ticket.
As you plan your online ARC system, think through the questions you need to ask and the information you need to receive so you can build an online input form that obtains all the data you need. This type of system goes a long way toward simplifying the process of applying for permission to pursue renovation projects, which also helps make relationships between administrators and residents all the more harmonious.
Get it all in one place
With the right homeowners association website software, it’s easy to implement the information and materials you’ve pulled together to build an attractive, effective website that helps publicize your community at the same time that it makes it run more smoothly. Want to check out the HOA Start difference for yourself? Sign up for our completely free 14-day trial and experience our full feature set.