The Importance of a Good HOA Website
Whether you’re getting ready to set up a website for your homeowners association, or simply giving your existing site a top-to–bottom examination, you want to know how to recognize a successful site—and determine whether your planned or current online property passes that test. Just as every HOA is different, every HOA website also should be unique, too, but that doesn’t mean you can’t set up and apply valid evaluation criteria. Look for these essentials, and prioritize them when you create or revise a community site.
Make life easier for HOA administrators
In most homeowners associations, nothing gets done without the hard work of volunteer administrators. Many of them fit in their duties around family and full-time jobs, but they still managed to stay committed to the wellbeing of their communities. One of the focal duties of your website should be to make life easier for these essential volunteers.
And that focus begins with the software that powers your website. If you’re planning—or already trying—to put together an HOA website using off-the-shelf, open-source components such as popular content management systems and their supporting plug-ins, you already face one big challenge: transforming general-purpose software to serve the specialized expectations of a homeowners association.
Yes, many companies create hard-working websites using this very same software, but their needs don’t include everything from dues assessments to online payments, amenity reservations to event registrations, photo galleries, rule violation enforcement, and so on.
So the very first key to a good HOA website is good HOA website software. To find the very best, look for a provider with expertise in serving homeowners associations, a source that typically narrows its customer base to specialize in HOAs.
Add value for community residents
Understandably, HOA administrators think of community websites in terms of what those sites can do to serve their own interests. They want easy to-use-website building tools, intuitive set up mechanisms for all the varied neighborhood features they need to manage, and secure payment processing that simplifies the otherwise onerous task of dues collection.
But it’s important to think of these types of features in terms of their benefits for and impact on the very people they’re set up to serve: Residents. After all, the average homeowners association serves a resident population that can be 10, 100, or even 1,000 times the size of the group of people behind the scenes. That means the average administrator fields the same questions and complaints over and over again, a ratio that a great community website reduces drastically.
When you evaluate HOA software and website providers, look at features and functions in terms of how they’ll make your life easier—because they help your residents do a better job of their part of the process, including compliance with community covenants and prompt payment of assessments.
Look for flexible ways to set up payments, including traditionally invoiced dues as well as one-time charges that can handle everything from mailbox replacements to sponsor payments. Include a newsfeed to keep residents up to date with the latest rule changes, event options, and opportunities to get involved. Build a Q&A section to answer repeated inquiries automatically through a FAQ, or frequently asked questions page. All these features benefit administrators, but if you plan and implement them as community benefits, everyone wins.
Give yourself lots of options
Feature flexibility is essential to high performance in homeowners association software. If your provider locks you in to one and only one way of working, you’ll quickly find it difficult to make your website work the way you need it to function. Not only do you want a website plan that’s scaled to match your community’s needs, but you also want it to offer the versatility necessary to avoid limiting the ways you operate. And of course, you want to work with a provider that’s committed to adding new and updated features on an ongoing basis.
Along with that versatility, you want another big assist behind the scenes: A comprehensive support system that helps you learn to use the software quickly and take full advantage of all of its features. Ideally, that support includes a real expert assigned to answer your question, as well as reference guides, how-to videos, and a step-by-step procedural help system with context-sensitive links to every task.
In short, look for an HOA website provider that understands and caters to your needs, makes life easier for you and your residents, and gives you easy ways to address the complex tasks of HOA administration.