Having an HOA website is a must for communicating with busy association members. With more and more people finding their information online, a website is a great platform for reaching a large audience. The real challenge for HOAs when it comes to websites is finding the time and volunteers to maintain the site. Here are key considerations when it comes to HOAs and websites:
Do websites help increase communications?
Websites do increase communications among HOA members. An HOA website is a one-stop source of information where members can find information relevant to the community in which they live. It is also a great way to streamline communication to the entire community at once, resulting in fewer calls to the management office.
A well-designed and maintained website increases communication to anyone searching for a new home. As more people search for homes and communities online, an attractive and user-friendly website for your HOA is a powerful marketing tool. It communicates messages of quality, care, and professionalism, the same traits those shopping for new homes expect to see when they visit your community. Using local photography instead of stock photos is one way to ensure authenticity with your site.
What are good features to include on a website?
It's important to focus on specific features that will best benefit the community. For example, a calendar for HOA community events is a great way to share important dates for meetings, cook-outs, and other special gatherings. Consider having a calendar gatekeeper who posts submitted events or, allow members to upload events on the HOA website themselves.
Board activity such as meeting minutes is another important feature. Other documents easily shared on a website are meeting agendas, newsletters, and even maps of HOA boundaries. Links to area nonprofit organizations like Boy and Girl Scouts are also helpful features. Don't forget a "contact us" button to encourage communication, whether it is suggestions, questions, or even complaints.
Lastly, but perhaps most importantly, make sure the website is optimized for mobile. With nearly 60% of searches now from mobile devices, ensuring your site is mobile-friendly is essential to successful communication.
What are the risks associated with an HOA website?
While there are risks with any type of website there are two key risks with an HOA website: posting financials and online forums. Posting financials often include accounts payable. Members are entitled to view association finances, including information regarding delinquencies. Before including this information on your HOA website, it is best to consult an attorney. Most associations prefer a more formal way for members to request the information. Instead, they prefer to keep the website focus on relevant information such as board meetings and community events.
Are HOA websites outdated as a communication tool?
HOA websites remain relevant and necessary communication tools. The ability to reach the entire community from one platform is invaluable to management and members. Websites also save HOAs money as it eliminates the need for printings and postage. However, an HOA website must be maintained and updated to be an effective communication tool. With a volunteer board and volunteer committee members, having a dedicated website manager may not be possible. Adding a disclaimer that the site isn't monitored every day is one idea. Better yet, ask for volunteers who have website management experience. By keeping the website simple with a strict focus on providing key information, management of the site won't be an overwhelming task.
Investing in an HOA website takes time, effort, and possibly money if an outside designer is needed for the project. The end result is worth it as awareness of community events, issues, and policies grow among members using the site. Whether starting from scratch or upgrading an existing site, an HOA website is an important and necessary communication tool.