Association Websites

July 21, 2022

Association Website Fundamentals

The most important element in creating an effective website is to make sure it reflects the needs of the association and management. I have often wondered how people who have no, or little, experience with community association management could design a truly effective community website.

You can have the most beautiful site in the world, but if it doesn’t truly reflect the needs of the community, then not too many people will keep visiting it to take care of association-related business.

Its lack of depth or usability will result in users and residents going back to email, telephone or office visit to communicate with management, and that does not contribute to effective communication and time-management.

There are two basic types of Homeowner Association Websites: Static and Interactive.

The Static Website is basically a web precense for the community or HOA. It may have a home pahe, contact form, about page, and maybe some links to management company and may have the ability to download a few forms.

The Interactive Website has the ability to become your community online.  In this article we will focus on the interactive website.

The features of a truly effective and interactive website should be based upon several factors, all of which demand that those features represent the real needs of the community and management company, ***but not necessarily by the management company.

The purpose of your website is to automate as many processes as possible in order to require very little services from HOA and community management companies and lowering management company costs.

The two main goals of any community association website should be to enable:

1- Residents - To Conduct Homeowner Business & Receive Communications From HOA on the community website.

2- HOA Board Members - To conduct Association Business and receive communications and feedback from residents on the community website.

Let’s start with providing communication options.

Whenever a reseident visits the community website, if they can easily find the communication option that best suits the reason, they have accessed the site in the first place, then you have already won half the battle.

Modules and tools that provide opportunities to address specific needs.

For example, a resident wants to report a violation of the community’s rules and regulations. They go to the community website and there, easily visible on the main menu, is a link to a “Report a Violation” form. The owner clicks on the link and goes to a form that they fill out with all the relevant information and submit. The form is sent to the manager as an email and the manager can then begin to address the non-compliance issue.

Some of the other specific needs that may require specific modules are:

1. Request an Architectural Review application

2. Request homeowner account information

3. Report a common area maintenance issue

4. Volunteer to serve on an association committee

5. Clubhouse usage application

6. Request parking permit application

I would strongly recommend that a General Communication Form also be included among the email-based forms to function as a ‘catch-all’ in case the particular need of the owner is not addressed by the available forms.

It is important, however, to take into consideration your management style when deciding upon which modules you want to add and what information you want to make available to residents to download on the website.

Let’s look at the Architectural Review Application for instance. Many boards and managers are looking to provide as many community-specific applications and information as they can for download on their community websites.

More is better, or so the thinking goes, and if it can be downloaded from the website than no one must take up their time in order to collect it and distribute to the owner via snail mail. The community website, after all, is a tool to use to help the manager save time and providing the Architectural Review Application online certainly does that.

Management Company Provided Websites

It is always a good idea to keep the community website idependent from the management company.  It is important that the management company have access to use it and learn about the community via the website and use it to connect with residents, but it would be a nightmare to switch websites everytime a community changes management companies. In most cases there is a new learning curve and management style with each management company website.

By having the HOA manage the website and not the management company, it eliminates the dependenance and need to re-train and educate residents on new website provided by new HOA management company.

The more self sufficient your website is in handling the issues in your community the less you will require from a management company and the lower your montly HOA managment fees will cost your residents and the more effective your comuntiy management will be.

Ideally as new management styles and processes are integrated with each new management company, the community website has the unique ability to capture those processes and evolve into a more effective asset as time goes by. Eventually only requiring the HOA management company to handle only those tasks the board or website can't or don't want to handle such as financials, collections, enforcement, etc..

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  • Author: Alexious Fiero

    The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.


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