How the Best Homeowners Association Websites Put HOAs Ahead

In some states, they’re required by law. In every state, they add so much convenience and so many highly desirable features that every home owners association should have one. They’re community websites, and they make life easier from everyone in your HOA, from the newest resident—and the prospective home buyer—to the most highly involved board member or administrator.

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A few U.S. states already require community websites for home owners associations, especially for larger communities. If your state is on this growing list, you’ll want to make sure that you understand all the requirements you’ll need to meet so you can build a site that benefits your HOA at the same time that it takes care of your legal obligations.


Neighborhood Living


But beyond checking the compliance boxes, neighborhood websites for residents make community administration easier—and if you’re a typical volunteer administrator, that’s going to save you time and enable you to build even better relationships with your neighborhoods. How about secure online payments with automatically generated invoices that go out on the schedule you specify and drop right into your community bank account with no manual intervention? Online amenity reservations and event registrations? Private, protected digital document storage with one-click downloads and customizable access rules? All these features and many more make the best HOA websites a huge advantage for their communities.

So how do the best association websites take those advantages and make them even better? Two words: Flexibility and convenience. With the right homeowners association website provider, you’re in charge of what your site does and how it does it.

What the best association websites do better than other sites

What the best association websites do better than other sites

The best HOA websites respect the fact that every community and every home owners association is different. Regardless of how similar your community may look in comparison other HOAs, no two homeowners associations are identical. From variations in geography and local attractions to community sizes, types of amenities, dues amounts and frequencies, and still more attributes, even two communities that look very much alike on paper can’t be identical twins, even if only because the same people don’t live in both places.

So if you sign up with an HOA website provider that doesn’t offer you the flexibility to set up your site the way your community needs it to function, then you’re almost certain to feel really disappointed with the extent to which your site serves your needs—or misses the mark.

What’s the ultimate in flexibility? For HOAs, it’s a wide range of features that you can configure in many different ways to achieve many different purposes.

For example, a truly configurable dues and payments system can handle HOA-like communities that don’t require residents to join, and that charge different amounts of annual dues for those residents who do sign up, based on the level of membership features they want.

That same flexible dues and payment system also can manage the monthly dues for a community that allows every resident to sign up for website access, but still sends out only one invoice per address regardless of how many residents live there.

What to look for in HOA website examples

What to look for in HOA website examples

Many platforms show you a variety of HOA website examples built on their platforms. Some of these examples are demonstration sites constructed to showcase their feature sets and provide you with sample sites so you can log in to test out their functionality.

That’s not to say that demonstration sites have no value. On the contrary: They give you a hands-on experience that may enable you to learn enough about individual HOA website platforms to begin to make an informed decision among providers. The only drawback to demo sites is that these fictional communities are structured to make the software look as good as possible.

To make the demonstration fully real for you—and provide the ultimate in customized, individualized preview experiences—the best HOA website platforms also offer free trials, during which you can set up a website with your own community’s unique content, amenities, events, and more, and experiment to your heart’s content for a week or perhaps even longer.

Between the demonstration sites and the free trials, you can learn everything you need to know about HOA website platforms, scope out their ability to meet your needs, and choose the best platform for your community. At the same time, you can find out how—and how well—these HOA website platforms support their communities and help them build their sites.

How to recognize great association website design resources

How to recognize great association website design resources

One feature that sets outstanding HOA website platforms apart from lesser alternatives is their commitment to easy association website design success—and their willingness to support communities throughout their site creation process and beyond.

How do communities achieve great-looking home owners association websites quickly and easily? In the best cases, they rely on intuitive, professionally created association website design tools, a full suite of help resources to suit virtually any learning style, and onboarding support provided by a well-trained staff that knows the ins and outs of every feature.

Those design tools often offer templates that turn unique page creation into a matter of a few clicks and choices, without ever reducing anyone’s site to a cookie cutter clone. The templates incorporate versatile areas that accept text, graphics, or both, and make it simple to put together everything from your Home page to your Member Directory and Board roster, along with anything else you want to say, showcase, and offer on your site.

And those help resources? The best HOA website platforms know that everyone’s learning style is different. Some people like detailed step-by-step directions that cover every aspect of a feature, so you can learn your way through a process and become an expert user. Others prefer illustrated reference guides that incorporate screen captures of procedures and outcomes, along with text that narrates the basics of the process. And if you’re a visual learner who wants onscreen instruction in video format, the best HOA website platforms include those resources as well, enabling you to step through a feature and see its options play out.

Are property manager websites a good substitute for association websites?

If you work with an association management company that offers you access to an HOA website portal, you may think you can use it to take care of all the functions you’d otherwise create a website to handle. That’s probably not the case—and even if you decide to use property manager websites for some functions, you may not be satisfied with how they handle the full range of your online needs.

Most HOA website portals are designed to serve the management company’s needs, not yours. The company wants to set up a single website and enable multiple client communities to use it for functions such as online bill payments. The problem with that approach is that it treats each of the management company’s communities generically, with no HOA-specific content. And to serve all of the company’s properties, the HOA website portal can’t offer too many features that may not suit the lowest common denominator of these communities’ needs.




So you wind up logging in to a website that can’t provide community-specific information, beyond the bare bones of invoices and payments, and that lacks all of the community value besides its singular focus on the economic aspects of community administration.

Those are important considerations, of course, but they’re not enough to make an HOA website portal function like a true community website. By contrast, a community’s own website includes photo galleries that highlight architectural features, scenic beauty, and the neighborhood atmosphere that turns a collection of homes into a neighborhood. It shares information about community needs and developments, and even can allow residents to comment on these postings. It publicizes the special advantages of an individual HOA to attract potential residents.

The huge advantages of a true HOA management website

Beyond providing the functions you expect from property manager websites, the best homeowners association websites provide deep support for the real work of home owners association administrators.

Take one not-so-simple example: The architectural modification request process. In some communities, that process remains a disconnected set of e-mail exchanges and attachments, and delays that pop up when essential information goes astray or simply isn’t provided. Without digital representations of paint chips, shingles, and plans, you and your fellow HOA administrators can’t tell whether a resident wants to add purple siding or build a 10-foot fence. Unless you can request and review the specific types of information you need to evaluate the home owner’s request, you can wind up with antennas on front lawns, above-ground pools in communities that simply won’t accept them, and other out-of-spec dilemmas that a coordinated system of ARC review would eliminate altogether.




Instead, the best homeowners association websites include a complete architectural modification request review system that covers every aspect of these tickets, from initial inquiry through administrative review and on to acceptance or rejection. Administrators can add private comments and reply to one another directly in the coordinated, threaded exchange. Even after the request itself receives either approval or denial, residents and administrators alike can continue to review the ticket and even add further comments.

This type of thorough, thoughtful support for essential community needs makes the difference between a real website for neighbors—one that genuinely improves relationships between residents and their community’s administration—and just another online property.

How neighborhood websites for residents bring communities closer together

How neighborhood websites for residents bring communities closer together

Rather than settle for a neighborhood information website—one that provides news and accepts payments, but does very little to enhance communication or build understanding between residents and community administration—what you really want is multipurpose site that handles the full scope of community needs. That’s where the best homeowners association website really shine.

One of the best ways to engage with residents and incorporate their input into community decision making involves real communication tools that residents and administrators alike can use. One essential example: The versatile newsfeed.

For some communities, a newsfeed provides bulletins, displays one or more essential posts pinned to the top of the page, and otherwise serves as the digital equivalent of the bulletin board that every HOA clubhouse once featured. That approach avoids the prospect that people with differing views on current affairs might turn the newsfeed into a shouting match.

If you know the personalities and the people, and therefore recognize that they’re not going to misuse your newsfeed for other purposes, the best homeowners association websites give you the ability to allow your residents to post and comment. To extend the conversation even further, these outstanding HOA management website platforms even offer private chat features that rival social media platforms. Not a necessity for every community, certainly, but these features are essential to the versatility that makes home owners association websites a success.

Research HOA website platforms before you make your move

If you’ve already begun your research into the features and providers that power the best home owners association websites, you’ve probably realized that the do-it-yourself development route may not be the ideal choice. Of course, if you have a big budget to hire a professional website programmer and designer, or the WordPress skills—and the patience—to start from scratch and find all the solutions yourself, you can take any approach you want.


Find Your Must-Have HOA Website Software Features


But that’s not the case for most homeowners associations. They’re neither willing nor able to spend huge amounts of money and time on site development, not when other less-costly options exist. They’re also not likely to count a WordPress developer among their administrative volunteers. So for the overwhelming majority of communities, HOA website platforms offer the ideal mixture of specialized support, on-target resources, powerful design features, and conveniently affordable plans. Before you sign up for one of these platforms, match up their features and their approach with the way you want to work—and the results you want to achieve. That’s the ideal way to build one of the best homeowners association websites for your HOA.

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