Find Your Must-Have HOA Website Software Features
What’s the number one homeowners association website software feature that’s a must-have for your community? If you’re like many HOA administrators, you either need a moment to think about your answer, or you can’t narrow it down to just one feature. Before you select a website software provider, make sure you know exactly what you want your site to be able to do. Otherwise, you might build your entire website before you discover that it won’t be able to accomplish some objective that’s an essential part of marketing your community, communicating with your residents, and easing your administrative tasks.
Secure online payments
For many homeowners associations, secure online payments are a must. Even your least internet-savvy residents probably make purchases online, and know the convenience of being able to pay a bill without using a check, a stamp, and an envelope. And admit it, you wouldn’t miss one minute of the process of manual invoicing if you never had to do it again.
But online payments aren’t enough in and of themselves, unless you can assure your community that the process is well integrated into your website and truly safe. After all, what’s one of the most stolen categories of personally identifiable information: credit card numbers and other billing details.
So it’s not enough to offer online payments. You need to provide a safe, secure, easy-to-use resource that gives your residents confidence in the process.
Secure document repository
Many homeowners association administrators would love to get away from the tasks associated with manual distribution of essential HOA documents. Print outs, photo copies, email attachments that don’t go through, and the all-but-inevitable “did you check your spam folder?” question when residents say that a file went astray. A homeowners association website software provider that offers you the option of an online document repository can solve an incredibly long list of problems with one simple website feature.
Just as with online payments, however, security also forms a top priority when you’re sharing documents online—at the same time that you want files to be easy for others to access if it’s actually appropriate for them to do so. That combination of security and access is easy to achieve if you can create individualized settings to apply limits, so only board members can see vendor quotes, for example, but even the general public can access a marketing flyer.
Collaboration is essential to community spirit. What’s one of the best ways to make it easy for your residents to collaborate in all the ways you expect of a genuine neighborhood? Provide them with an easy-to-use member directory and enable them to opt in to sharing their contact information. Some residents may prefer to stay anonymous. Others may want to share an e-mail address but not a phone number, or vice versa. Still others may be perfectly comfortable sharing all of the above. Ideally, you want the ability for each member to determine exactly how much of this type of information they share.
One of the other advantages of a properly coded website-based member directory is the ability to text or email members directly through your site. Ideally, you want to be able to select the members you need to contact and do so with a single click. Look for the ability to send text messages as well as e-mail messages.
Along with providing residents with easy ways to get to know each another, many homeowners associations also look for built-in options that can support fluent communication. Some communities rely on established social media sites to provide ways for members to exchange ideas and views, but those sites exist apart from your website, and some residents may prefer not to join the social media venue you select. Not only that, but it’s virtually impossible to brand a social media site page so it conveys the same identity as your website.
Instead of separating communication and social interaction apart from your website, why not integrate these things directly into the site itself? If you choose the right homeowners association website software provider, you can offer private chat features directly on your site. You also may be able to add a newsfeed, post news items, and enable residents to comment on the items you post – and even post items of their own – or restrict commenting only to administrators.
One of the first things that prospective residents want is to take a look at your community and visualize living there. Likewise, residents enjoy seeing pictures of their involvement in community affairs. Whether you’re looking for a way to share images of community events so residents can see them, or you want to build a gallery of photos to market community features and amenities, an online photo gallery is a straightforward way to brag about your HOA. Of course, you may want to decide how broadly to share these images, and if you can set specific access permissions for individual galleries, you can control access in a meaningful way.
Prioritize what’s important to you
Despite the many things that homeowners associations have in common, each one truly is unique. The HOA website software features that mean the most to you may be less important to another community. What’s important is to find the website software provider that offers not only the features you want, but features that you might want down the road: in other words, a provider that offers your website room to grow at the same time that it meets your current needs.
So how do you choose the right provider? At HOAStart, you can sign up for a free 15-day trial without a credit card. You’ll instantly gain full access to all our features so you can try them out for yourself. We believe that once you experience all the powerful convenience we offer, you’ll see why HOAStart should be your first choice to build the homeowners association website that truly meets your community’s needs.