7 Important Features Your Homeowners Association Website Needs
Before you set up a website for your HOA, make sure you choose a homeowners association website software provider that can offer you all the features, functionality, ease, and convenience you need to make your website and attractive and useful tool. Put these seven features on your must-have list to ensure a successful site.
Every aspect of your site—behind the scenes and in front of your membership—must be easy for administrators and residents alike to use. Look for an administrative dashboard that provides an at-a-glance view of everything that’s going on with your interaction with residents, as well as an equivalent dashboard for residents themselves. Don’t settle for less than an intuitive, point-and-click site setup tool that offers professionally designed templates so you can make quick work of attractive page designs.
You need the ability to communicate easily and quickly with residents—and they need the ability to communicate with you. In addition, your software should give you the option to designate any individual component of your website as private or public, depending on whether the specific aspect should or should not be visible to anyone other than administrators and members.
Look for an HOA website software provider whose platform enables you to add a newsfeed to your site, along with a private chat feature for member communication. Beyond that, look for a resident directory that gives each individual member the ability to determine how much of their personal information they share with other residents.
Online invoicing and payments
Even people who would probably describe themselves as casual internet users are familiar with the ease and convenience of online payments. Chances are that most of your residents have bought goods and services online, and that they expect your website to give them the ability to pay—quickly and securely—for all of their homeowners association dues and fees directly through online payments. They also expect your payment process to protect their personally identifiable information securely.
A fully featured homeowners association website software platform offers secure, easy-to-use payment processing without setup hassles or confusing, expensive fee structures. Whether residents need to use the payment functionality for dues and fees or for other HOA-related costs, including event registrations and other community features, they want it to be as simple to use as it is secure.
In-depth privacy options
Privacy features are essential in homeowners association website design, and rightfully so. After all, you’re dealing with a central component of people’s identity: where they live and who they are. You expect your homeowners association website software platform to give you complete control over what you share and with whom. Some communities may want to set up a newsfeed that they share with the public, one that functions as more of a marketing blog than as a set of community updates. Other communities may prefer that newsfeed to be an entirely private feature. To respect everyone’s preferences, what you want is a website software platform with customization options throughout.
Polls and surveys
When you need to find out what your residents think about important issues that face your community, creating and sharing a poll or survey can be an easy customizable process or a huge hassle, depending on the capabilities of your homeowners association website software platform. But this feature isn’t optional: You know you’ll need to poll your residents periodically to determine where they stand, and you certainly want to be able to view the results in graphed form for an easy visual reference to outcomes.
Rather than resort to e-mailed polls and be forced to use a spreadsheet program to graph results, wouldn’t you rather set up a custom form that contains your polling questions, post the inquiry on your website, and view an automated data visualization that updates itself as results come in? That’s the functionality you should expect from a well-designed homeowners association website software platform.
Responsive website design
Once upon a time, everyone used desktop computers to go on the internet. Gradually, laptop computers became more common as online browsing tools. Today, a website visitor is more likely to use a phone—or perhaps a tablet device—than a full-fledged computer. However, your website needs to accommodate all of these device types without knowing in advance how big or small they are, and serve up a right-sized representation of your site that looks good and works well on any piece of technology that can run a web browser.
That’s where what’s called “responsive design” comes in. On a modern, well-designed website, the type and size of a visitor’s device determines the onscreen sizing and arrangement of page content. Instead of a horizontally aligned set of menu items in a bar at the top of the screen, for example, you may see a set of three short parallel lines—like an equal sign that’s underlined—that you click on to open a vertically aligned menu. Web designers call that set of three lines the “hamburger menu” because it looks something like a very stylized drawing of the side view of a sandwich.
But if you choose an HOA software provider with an outdated code base, you may not get any form of responsive design for your website, and visitors may be forced to zoom and scroll to see everything on the page. That leaves people fed up and frustrated with sites that can’t seem to display productively without a lot of fumbling around.
Centralized digital document repository
What’s the ideal way to manage your homeowners association’s set of essential documentation? A file cabinet full of printouts? Not these days, when everyone’s accustomed to being able to download these types of information with a single click on a website link. To make your critical documents—covenants, rules, procedures, and more—readily available, you need an HOA website software platform that enables you to set up and customize a digital document repository, with files and folders arranged just the way you want them.
By now, you’re probably nodding in agreement that all these features are as essential as they can be difficult to find from one homeowners association website provider—without having to pay individually for some of the most-critical functionality you need. At HOAStart, our website-building platform includes all these capabilities, each with a full roster of customization options. Take advantage of our 30-day free trial to set up your site, try out our features, and see why we believe that we’re the ideal solution to your HOA website software needs.