By Leila Scola / Published July 2021
Having a website for your homeowners association is a key tool for HOAs. It gives the board of directors more agility, and residents a new way to keep up with their community. It also brings many other benefits. However, it needs to fulfill some requirements so that it actually makes your life easier rather than adding another task to your to-do list. It also needs to include certain information to be helpful. Here we’ll focus on the benefits, requirements, and needed additions for your public website.
The boards that we talk to are often working with different tools to do their jobs. They normally have at least one spreadsheet with resident information. They often pay for an email service. Then there’s a platform to upload documents, schedule meetings, book amenities, and check people in, plus a gadget to scan parcels. It’s a lot of stuff to keep track of!
A website cuts down on that because it provides a space for the board to post documents and communicate with residents. Residents can even book amenities and view community events on their neighborhood association’s website. If you choose to add a secure, back-end portal, then this streamlines the board’s tools even more.
HOA boards are made up of volunteers, so they want to be as efficient as possible. With a website you can post information, events, board meetings, documents, and maintenance requests in one place. If residents have any questions, then their first stop will be their website. Then, if they can’t find the information that they’re after, they could send a question through your contact form.
This makes your website a two-way communication channel. It helps the board get information out to the whole community quickly and easily, and residents can get in touch with the board efficiently.
When you use your HOA website to communicate with the community, you build a community hub. Your website can be a notice board, document filing system, community calendar, and amenity booking system if you want it to be.
The more the board uses the website to centralize communication and information, the more residents will embrace it. They will be able to find out what’s happening in their community when they’re on the go or if they’re away.
Since your website is multi-functional, it cuts down on the amount you need to spend on different tools. It also means that you will need to spend less on printing out and mailing newsletters to residents. That’s because everything will be easily accessible on the website.
For the benefits of a website to be felt by everyone, it needs to have some simple requirements.
The board or web manager should be able to create a website for the HOA without pulling their hair out. It should be simple to choose the template that you’d like and upload pictures, information, and a contact form. The website you choose should fit with your vision, not vice versa.
After you’ve set it up, the website shouldn’t sit there unchanged. Your website needs to be updated regularly with what’s going on in your HOA. So it should be flexible; you should be able to post in 10 minutes and get on with your day. If you need to change anything, you need to have the independence to do that.
Not all your residents may be used to going online, so your website needs to be easy to navigate. Your menu should clearly state what they can find and where they can find it. This will help senior residents who are less confident on the internet. Your website should also have high contrast between the text and background so that it’s easy to read.
In 2020, mobile access accounted for over 60 percent of traffic to websites in the U.S. It’s important that your site work well on mobile devices. If you’re looking for a company to do your website, ask for an example website and check it on your phone to make sure it works well.
Your website should include a few different aspects to make it useful and stand out.
Posting news, services, and information about the HOA will make your website useful. If you don’t regularly update your site, then it’s not fulfilling its purpose. So every time there’s a board meeting, major maintenance, or landscaping installation scheduled, or anything happens that residents should know about, it needs to go on your website.
Including pictures is essential because it showcases how amazing your community is. They show prospective residents what the HOA is like. For residents, it gives them pride in their neighborhood association. More than that, it takes your website from a boring noticeboard to a proper website.
In 2017 the governor of Florida approved House Bill 1237 that states condominiums with 150 units or more must have a website. The website needs to be operated by the association or a third party, and it needs to have a secure back-end portal to store documents. You should post the following documents:
Even if you’re not part of a condominium association or have less than 150 units in your condominium, you should keep this law in mind as it could change.
Also, all residents should have easy access to important documents, like the bylaws and CC&Rs. Having these essential documents easily accessible will cut down on repetitive questions and improve transparency.
Everything we’ve talked about so far is possible on your public website, but if you want to take the next step, then you need a back-end portal. This is a secure platform where board members can communicate with residents
privately. An HOA with a portal has a private space to communicate with residents in different ways. They can send emails, texts, calls, and private messages. A portal allows residents to report violations and work orders. The board can host online meetings in a back-end portal which helps to achieve quorum and increase resident engagement. It’s a more complete platform than a website.
Having a website for your homeowners association is now essential. It gives the board the ability to communicate better, streamline tools, and save money. For residents, it’s a hub of information and a new way to navigate their community. However, this can only be achieved if it’s easy to create, maintain, and use.
Leila Scola, Head of Customer Success & Marketing, Vinteum
Leila is the head of customer success and marketing at Vinteum. She has been working for Vinteum since 2018, first working in customer service and success and now managing that department and the marketing team. Vinteum is an award-winning modern, easy-to-use communication software that offers HOA and condominium board members and managers a website, portal, and app with incredible support. For more information, visit vinteum.io.