HOA Website - Important Features to look for
Your HOA Website serves as a great tool to share information with in your community. The information can be in the form of Documents like Covenants, ByLaws, Community Rules or a monthly newsletter informing the community about what is happening i.e. Construction and Maintenance, Landscaping changes etc. Every community has their own needs in terms of what goes onto their website but there are some common needs that help every neighborhood or community.
Here are some key features your HOA Website should offer: -
Securely Hosted Documents and Forms
Your HOA Documents contain private information about the community. Your HOA Website should have a secure area that is only accessible to the members of the community to prevent outsiders from using the Documents to gain internal community information. It is very important for your HOA website to let you specify whether a Document is available for public access or is private. To go further, there are some documents that should only be accessible to the HOA Board. So care should be taken to control access to such Documents as well.
With security, comes the need to support Member Accounts for Neighbors so that the website can allow access to the restricted areas of the website. Your HOA Website should allow Neighbor accounts - whether via self registration or via the website administrator. Having Member accounts allows the website to support features like ARC requests, Neighbor Notices and collection of other data specific to a Neighbor Account. Your HOA website should also let you secure the Member signups so that only visitors cannot create Member accounts.
Most HOA Communities have their own Architectural Review Committees to review/ approval architectural change requests from the neighbors. ARC requests require neighbors to submit details of their project which is reviewed by the committee/ board to make a decision. Different communities have different needs on what goes into an ARC Request Form and there is no one form that fits all. While some communities opt for paper based Request Forms, your HOA Website should take the need away and offer customized ARC request forms. A customized form lets site administrators build the web form based on their needs and set up different forms for different request types.
Your HOA website should have a Contact form for site visitors to contact the board or website administrator. Such visitors may include: -
Prospective Home Buyers
A Vendor/ Contractor submitting an Invoice for Payment
Title companies requesting whether a Homeowner is current on their HOA Dues
The Contact Us form should allow the administrator to route contact us requests to one or more email addresses. The Website should also allow the administrator to look at the Contact Us Requests received from the website without having to to through the emails.
FAQ - Section
FAQ is a commonly used area on many websites. FAQ is an abbreviation for Frequently Asked Questions. It means commonly asked questions by your community or site visitors and contains answers for those questions. Common FAQs include: -
How to report a problem i.e. broken light, fallen tree.
How to get in touch with the Board.
How to request a Pool Key.
How to report a Neighbor violating the bylaws.
How to report a security/ crime related incident.
Just like Documents, your HOA website should support marking an FAQ as public or private as the answer to the question may include private information that you want to restrict to members only.
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