How to Navigate the Process of Choosing HOA Website Software
Congratulations! Your homeowners association has made the decision to create a website, and you’re all excited to get started. “How difficult can this be?” you ask yourself. But when you begin the process of making that goal a reality, you discover just how many complications you really can face on the road to fulfilling your homeowners association’s needs.
Once upon a time, people assumed that “It’s a website; aren’t they all kind of the same?” Ten years ago, many sites consisted only of certain fairly rigidly defined features, but that no longer holds true. Back then, the average website was more like a digitally presented brochure than an interactive experience, not much different from what you’d expect to find in an digital file that contained a company presentation. Today’s popular contact management systems, such as WordPress, began as platforms that people used for blogs, not for full-fledged websites. The earliest version of WordPress did not even include the ability to extend the core functionality of the software with plug-ins, and the addition of themes came along roughly two years later.
Keep in mind that in those days, companies, organizations, and associations did not rely on a content management system like WordPress to put together their websites. The popular view was that WordPress was “just a blogging platform,” and in its early days, that really was about all the software was designed to create. Most full-blown commercial websites tightly linked their content with their appearance. Changing any aspect of one of those sites was a major undertaking that required recoding entire pages. (That’s one of the challenges that content management systems set out to conquer.)
And most people assumed that early websites were reserved either for big companies or for tech-savvy people who wanted to “put themselves out there” online. That didn’t change until it became much easier to create, customize, add to, and maintain a website without having to hire a professional to code and update it.
Today, as you begin to research your homeowners association website software provider options, you quickly discover a long list of entities clamoring for your attention, each claiming to offer you the best alternative you can find. You may assume—and often quite correctly—that many of these providers are not in fact your very best options, but simply are attempting to market themselves to your attention.
Before you can pick a winner among the many options you discover as you begin your research, however, you actually need to do something far more important first. You need to figure out exactly what you want your website to accomplish for your HOA.
If you’re like most homeowners associations that jump into the website creation process, you want more than a simple brochure site can offer, especially if you are in one of the states that require HOAs to set up and maintain websites. It’s great that a website can present the advantages of your friendly neighborhood, the many amenities you offer, and all the reasons that people should want to move into one of the homes in your community, but that’s simply not enough anymore.
As you start to plan the list of features you really want your website to offer your HOA, we can predict some of the ones you need. That’s because at HOAStart, we’ve been helping homeowners associations build websites for a very long time. What most HOAs want is really fairly simple.
They want to improve communication with members, especially where dues and fees are concerned, and they want to streamline the process of reserving amenities and putting on events. Ideally, they’d really like to have online payments integrated into their website, although when they research these types of options, they typically run into a tangle of complexity and expense. They want to be able to make a large percentage of their content private, and they’d really like a centralized digital repository for their most important documents, including covenants, bylaws, and the minutes of meetings.
But when you look for an HOA website software provider that can offer you all these features and then some, you quickly discover that your options are a lot more limited than you thought. Oh, sure, many providers offer some of these features, but very few, if any, offer all of them, and those that do often charge extra for some of these functions. They try to entice you to sign up for a feature-limited entry-level package that they market on the basis of its price, and then sell you other features as add-ons. By the time you finish incorporating all the options you want, your monthly price tag has climbed, perhaps beyond your comfort zone.
Because we’ve been working with HOAs for a long time, and because we know what they really want, we make sure that our software provides that extended feature set, and that we don’t nickel and dime you for the features that are most important to you. We include online payments, member directories that you can make private and in which your members can choose whether to appear, private messaging, amenity reservations, event management, and much more, all controlled through a robust administrative dashboard with single-click access to features and settings.
Along with all these wonderful features, we also offer you something that’s very uncommon among HOA website software providers: a completely free, no-obligation 30-day trial period. You don’t even need to provide credit card details to sign up with HOAStart. Just create your site and start customizing it. It’s our way of giving you the opportunity to explore what we offer, see if it meets your needs, try it out with your board, and find out what your members think.
So although the process of setting up a homeowners association website isn’t as easy as just pushing a single button, that’s how easy it is to create a website with HOAStart. Once you explore our robust standard feature set, extensive online help system, step-by-step videos that walk you through specific features, and expert one-on-one support, we’re confident that you’ll find the right online home for your community as an HOAStart customer.