Help Yourself Set Up a Great HOA Website
So you’re ready to create a website for your homeowners association, or to replace your current site with a better one. How you conduct your site development process can go a long way toward determining how easy—and how successful—that process will be. If you begin with a success-oriented mindset, you’ll be ready to apply not only good ideas but best practices to every aspect of your setup plans.
Start out with a consistent attitude toward the entire development process. That includes making a list of what you want your website to accomplish for you. Do you want a site that’s largely static or one that allows for interaction through communication media such as a newsfeed or private-chat features? Do you want to accept online payments, and enable residents to sign up for events or amenities directly through your website?
What you want the site to do will go a long way toward determining which homeowners association website software provider you actually select to build your website. Instead of looking at what the various providers offer, decide on the features you want and check to see if they offer them. You’re not going to get the best results from a provider that offers you rock-bottom discount pricing but lacks the essential functionality you need.
Every aspect of your approach to site development requires some basic consistency to be successful. That goes for how you put together your members’ contact information, too. For example, be prepared to spell out or abbreviate things the same way every time you refer to the names of streets or other elements of contact information. If you do the same things the same way every time, you make it much easier to maintain consistency in the information you use and provide.
When you’re planning a homeowners association website, thoroughness includes two separate forms of planning and activity. First, you need to pull together all the types and forms of content that you want to include on your site. That can begin with essential documentation such as covenants and architectural standards, along with board meeting minutes, articles of incorporation, financials, and other materials. Content also includes amenity descriptions, a graceful introduction to your community designed to serve as a marketing message, and a list of all the fees you charge, along with their amounts and frequencies.
At the same time, you also want to gather attractive photographs that showcase the environment, atmosphere, and quality of life at your community. You want these photographs to offer a well-rounded glimpse of the resident experience, so prospective homebuyers get a taste of the advantages of life in your neighborhoods.
Likewise, strike a good balance between welcoming member input into your website development process and limiting the number of people whose approval is required for individual steps to proceed. The old saying that “too many cooks spoil the soup” applies to website development as well as too many other administrative processes.
Public or private?
Some of the information on a typical homeowners association website needs to be accessible to the general public, either to comply with laws and regulations or because it serves the marketing needs of your community. But some of the documents and materials that belong on your site should be designated for members-only access, and visible to members only once they log in to your website. For example, you want vendor quotes and equivalent materials to remain inaccessible to the general public and anyone else who does not sign up and log in.
By the same token, you also need to make decisions about how you let members sign up, because the methods you use may determine how simple or difficult it becomes to limit access to all and only the people who have a right to it.
For example, the easiest way to enable members to sign up for a website is to provide them with an automatic approval process. They visit your site, click on a registration link, and they’re automatically approved. Obviously, that relieves you and all of your fellow administrators of the burden of membership application review—but it also leaves the door wide open for inappropriate, unauthorized parties to sign up for membership and therefore for access what should be members-only information.
You’re better off establishing a sign-up form on your site and approving applications yourself, or collecting all of your member data—names, physical and e-mail addresses, phone numbers, etc.—and using an importable template file to upload your information. Of course, you can’t use these convenient processes unless your homeowners association website software provider makes them available, which reemphasizes the importance of thorough planning to ensure that you get all the features and support that you really need.
At HOAStart, we believe in member convenience, and that’s why we include all these features and many more in our HOA website software. We’ve built our software based on years of experience helping homeowners associations create great online properties. We constantly tune and update our software to ensure that it keeps up with the needs of our customers. We offer you a full library of support resources, including a robust help system, how-to videos that explain individual features, and abundantly illustrated Quick Resource Guides that zero in on essential tasks.
Not only that, but we offer you the option of a 15-day free trial—with no credit card information required—so you can road test our full feature set and see the advantages of our software. Come see why we believe that when you experience our software for yourself, you’ll see why we’re the right solution for your community.