Why should my association have a website?
- First is effective communication. It's important for a neighborhood to keep both current residents and future residents up-to-date on the latest neighborhood information, newsletters and official documents. A website is a great tool to disseminate this information to other people. Plus, this information is at their fingertips 24/7.
- A website helps reduce administrative expenses. Not only does a website help relieve the administrative burden on the association board members but it also reduces costs for copying, mailing and responding to requests since fewer items have to be mailed.
- Better and timelier communication to your residents. After a board meeting you can post your minutes on the website so that residents can be quickly informed.
- No more excuses from residents that they didn't know the rules and regulations. They can always view them on the website.
- Paperless processes. Visitors can fill out forms online which will be emailed to the person(s) you designate. You can then respond to the resident via email.
- Residents can see “what’s gong on” and communicate easier. This gives residents more of a feeling that they are part of the neighborhood.
- Better organization of your association notes and documents. Store all of your document revisions, notes, minutes etc on your website. All board members can be given access to manage files online. This is especially useful when board members change and historical documents don't always get transitioned to new board members.
- Added value to your neighborhood. Your website should show the pride residents have in maintaining the quality of their homes and neighborhood.
Why use a professional website design firm instead of doing it ourselves?
Many people have web design skills of various levels. Chances are somebody in your own neighborhood may volunteer to design and maintain your HOA website. In these situations it's a good idea to consider the following:
- What is their level of expertise?
- Will the site appear professional?
- Can they create the functionality you need and want?
- How long will it take to plan and develop the website?
- Will the board spend too much time on an unproven process?
- Can they manage a website hosting account?
- What time do they have now and in the future to maintain the website?
- Will they do what's in the best interest of the neighborhood?
- What happens when they disagree with the board's actions?
- What happens when they move or become too busy?
Any of these can cause tough situations for association board members.
Who is HOA Sites?
We have been in the web design and hosting business since 2001. Our parent company provides full service website design and hosting to a wide variety of clients.
HOA Sites was formed as a response to neighborhood board members approaching us needing a custom website solution for their association. Some of these neighborhoods had an existing website nobody knew how to maintain and others were looking for a new website to help reduce their administrative costs. We knew we could help on both fronts by creating a service specifically for homeowner associations and property managers.
What makes HOA Sites better than the competition?
Don't take our word for it. Compare for yourself based on the look of the website and the features you and your neighborhood need. Here are a few points to consider about how we work:
- No mass produced website template scripts. Our web designers assemble the website's design and layout for you.
- No cluttered and useless pages on your website. We design clean and appealing websites with information residents, realtors and prospective residents need and will use.
- No "one size fits all" website layouts. We easily tweak the website based on your desires which creates a very flexible website.
- Day-to-day requests are accomplished the same business day.
- Not being left alone to reinvent the wheel. We'll always offer suggestions as to what to include on your website, how best to organize it and what to say based on our experience with our other homeowner association clients. This is not just during the development of your site. We share ideas as they come up even after you go live.
Plus, full support for your website by a personable and creative person available by phone or email who also gets to know you and your specific needs.
What types of support do you provide?
We make sure you are supported from every direction.
- Support is provided M-F 8-5 EST, excluding holidays. Some after hours support is provided as well.
- Browse our knowledgebase filled with step-by-step instructions including screen shots to better show you the best methods.
- Helpful Tips are located throughout the Admin Panel to give you quick tips on best practices and to help you administer your website.
Can you support an association as large/small as we are?
Yes. Both our features and services were developed from the ground up to ensure they are always scalable to support associations of any size. Because of this approach we don't base our fees on the number of residents in your association.
Do I need to know anything about websites to do this?
No. Our user friendly Admin Panel is designed to be a self-service portal for non-technical people. You'll be able to edit your text, upload documents and control your website's functionality through our familiar interface. If you're comfortable using programs such as email software you will find the Admin Panel very easy to use. You'll simply add your text in a box, click save and it's live on your website. No HTML or technical knowledge needed.
Can I see a demo?
Yes. Visit our website demo to see our features in action.
I'm a property manager, how can you help me?
You can offer website design and hosting as an additional service to your clients. We can either work directly with you, the property manager, or with your HOA board members. Either way, your clients will appreciate the added value you bring to their neighborhood. We can even handle your company's website design and hosting needs.
Do you advertise on our website?
No. We do not force any advertisements onto your website for our financial gain. Any sponsors you have who wish to advertise on your website is 100% income to your association. We will however place a link back to HOA Sites at the bottom of your website.
Will you share our contact information with other people?
What spam controls do you have in place?
We integrate features to help keep spammers from finding your email addresses to begin with. Fill in web forms are setup to hide the recipient's email address, require an image verification code and prohibit common spam words from being included in the message.
Can I see your service agreement?
View our Website Service Agreement here.
Can you also provide web design services to our residents' businesses?
Yes. We can help your residents with their website needs as well. Our parent company provides custom website design and hosting services to businesses of all sizes.
How much do you charge to create and support the website?
Our rates are a flat fee regardless of the number of homes/units in your neighborhood. View our pricing here.
How can your pricing be so much lower than the competition?
Each time we hear this question we know we're doing something right. Custom website design was nothing new to us, but we were not going to enter the association niche charging $700 per year for a website.
Instead, our business plan was simple...we worked backwards. We ignored the competition and asked board members who had never explored having a website how much they think a website for their low budget, not-for-profit organization would cost. As you can imagine those were some rather low numbers. After a year of thinking outside the box, we were very pleased with our creation. The key is reliable and efficient processes plus low expenses that we can then pass on to our clients. We could tell you all of our secrets, but then they wouldn't be a secret.
Are there any fees for support or questions?
No. Our support is included in the annual fee.
Will the annual website services fee ever increase?
The prices you see are not a gimmick to get you to sign up so that we can later increase your costs. Of course we cannot predict the future of the economy as it relates to labor and technology costs. If we do face a situation to where we need to increase our fees, our goal will be to keep it reasonable and in line with the industry.
Why don't you charge different rates based on the number of visitors/homes?
We don't see a need to. From the website design and hosting perspective it doesn't cost us more money just because a neighborhood has more residents. So, it isn't right to charge more for the same service.
What types of payments do you accept?
We accept checks and all major credit cards.
What is our billing period and when does it start?
Billing is done annually and begins the date we give you access to your new website.
Can we pay monthly or quarterly for our website?
Our fees are due on an annual basis. This saves both you and us the expense of processing multiple payments throughout the year.
Are there any long-term contracts?
No, you may cancel at any time. Refunds are not issued for the months you have paid in advance.
How does the money-back guarantee work?
If within 30 days following your signup you are not satisfied for any reason you will be refunded the money you have paid minus a domain registration fee if applicable. See the full details here.
Do you provide search engine optimization services?
Yes. We've partnered with a SEO firm who specializes in providing search engine optimization and online marketing services. See the full details here.
How does my HOA make money from the sponsors section?
Other companies pay you directly to advertise their services on your website. We create a special section on your website for these advertisements. We recommend $40 per year for each company. It is also a good idea to include your sponsors in your newsletters.
Can we have a local business sponsor our website for us?
Yes. Contact some local businesses (especially realtors) and ask if they'll pay for your website in exchange for exclusive advertising. We suggest that they pay (reimburse) your association directly so that you remain the owner of the website in case they stop being your sponsor later.
Do I really get a personal web designer for my site?
Absolutely! As your assigned web designer learns more about your organization and your ideas we'll provide feedback as to how to make your website more functional and user-friendly. This extra touch means you can be proud of the end result because your HOA website was made specifically for you.
Will our website be driven by a template?
No. Template driven websites are pre-built websites that are mass produced and require all websites running on the template to have a uniform structure. These are also known as "cookie cutter" websites. Because many layout and design aspects of template driven websites must remain uniform, they restrict the ability to be customized beyond swapping out a header graphic, page content and navigation. The end result is often a very "flat" website.
Because our background is in designing custom websites, we take a more personal approach. Our website designs are custom coded for each client and they stand alone from our other clients' websites. This means we can completely customize every aspect of your design and layout to better fit your unique needs and preferences. Our clients have found that this flexibility gives their website its own personality and "WOW!" factor.
Who owns the website that you create for us?
Anything you put on your website such as text, photos and documents are your property and continue to be your property. This also includes the domain name(s) we register for you, as long as you remain an active client with no past due invoices. Items we put on the website plus the website's design, code and functionality remain our property.
How much work do I have to do on the website?
Initially, your involvement will include: input on the look of the website, text for the pages and documents/photos you wish to incorporate into the website. We take care of the design, adding pages/features, hosting for the website, registering the domain name and providing support. You will always be able to maintain your own content, documents and functionality through the Admin Panel.
Can you make our new website's design match our current (old) website?
We will probably be able to incorporate aspects of your current website's design. We would not be able to take over your current website nor plug in our functionality without any compatibility issues. That's why we would have to create a new website for you following our design standards and processes.
How many people can have admin access to update the website?
Through the Admin Panel you can assign unlimited people admin access to help maintain your website and keep it up-to-date. We suggest keeping it to a core group based on the "too many cooks in the kitchen" philosophy.
Depending on your plan, you can also have unlimited sub-admins that are given restricted access to manage the content on specific pages and manage the functionality you specify in the Admin Panel. Each sub-admin can have their own access profile independent of other sub-admins or use sub-admin groups that share the same access profile.
Why doesn't our website go live the instant we sign up?
Some of our competitors provide instant websites that are available as soon as you sign up. This is because they use automated template software that sets up all of the pre-designed code for your website. The end result is a "cookie cutter" website which restricts your ability to modify and personalize it to your unique needs.
We take a different approach. Your personal HOA Sites designer will learn about your neighborhood and your desires to build a creative and flexible website just for you. This personal touch is how we ensure you and your neighbors are proud of the end result.
How long does it take to create an HOA website?
Normally the design for your website is assembled within 1 day. This depends on how much you would like your design customized. After that, we stay on top of your change requests until you're happy with the layout. Once we present you with the initial design for the website you can immediately start adding the text and documents you wish to include. Then, once you're happy with the website you'll be ready to announce it to your association.
What designs are available to choose from?
Visit our creative websites page for several designs you can choose from. Keep in mind that each of our clients' websites are assembled specifically for them. So, all of these designs can be customized to better fit your neighborhood. We put these designs out there to give you a starting point or "inspiration" for your new website.
Can I decide what pages are on the website?
Yes. You can have whatever pages you would like on your website.
How does our website get updated after go-live?
You will be able to maintain your own content, documents and features through the Admin Panel. We will also continue to assist you as much as you need to maintain your website.
Am I able to send you photos to include in the design?
Absolutely! We look forward to seeing pictures of your neighborhood. This is a great way to add a personal touch to your website for your residents and visitors from of your local community.
Is there available stock photography to include in our design?
Yes. We use istockphoto.com for our stock photography. They have 5 million high quality images on their website.
How do I get people to visit the website?
There are many ways to spread the word to your residents about your new HOA website. Consider including a message in your periodic newsletters, send a letter to each resident and show it off at your annual meetings. One of our clients had a great idea to post a permanent sign at their entrance telling visitors and residents to visit their website. As an additional service, we also provide full color postcards and refrigerator magnets for announcing your new website. View pricing on these items here.
What features are included?
There are many. You can view a list of features available in all of our designs here. You get to pick which features to include or not to include and even suggest new areas for inclusion. As part of our dedication to fully maintain your site, you can also change your mind after your site goes live without any additional cost.
Are there items we cannot include on the website?
We require all websites to maintain a level of business professionalism with regard to its look, content and use. Websites are not to be used for posting personal matters of or for residents or non-residents. This includes but is not limited to blogs, dating, match making, personal photos, online chat etc. There are too many legal implications to items such as these.
Can we have you install on our website some software/code that we have?
We're certainly open to the idea. We would need to look at what you are wanting us to install to make sure it compatible with your website and that we're comfortable hosting it for you. Additional charges may apply.
What is the Admin Panel?
Whoever you assign as one of the Administrators for your website will be able to edit the content on the pages, upload documents and run the features on the website through the Admin Panel. The Admin Panel works a lot like Microsoft Word and sending email, so it does not require any technical knowledge.
Can we have FTP access to our website?
FTP access allows you to connect to the back end of the web server and gives you direct access to the code that's running your website. Therefore, we don't allow FTP access because we need to protect the value and integrity of our software and features. You'll be able to update your website's content and manage its features through the Admin Panel. If there are other changes you need done to your website let us know so that we can take care of them for you.
Can we post surveys?
Yes. Online surveys give you the opportunity to ask for your resident's opinions on topics you choose. You can post multiple surveys and residents can view real-time results. Closed surveys can be left online for view only. Residents may also leave a comment with their vote to further share their thoughts. This also includes features to restrict one vote per survey.
Can we create forms that are filled out and submitted online?
Yes. Online forms can be configured to match your current paper forms. Residents fill them out online and the responses are automatically emailed to the person you indicate. Fields can also be required to ensure you receive the data you need.
Can I restrict access to certain pages or documents?
Yes. We've found some associations wish to hide their financials and other resident documents from public view. Therefore, we set up a username and password residents can use to access these types of items. There are also multiple levels of security for each page. This is helpful if there is a page you only wish board members to access.
Can residents create a profile with their contact information?
Yes. We have 30 standard fields plus you can also specify 10 additional custom fields to gather even more information. Residents are also able to update their profile themselves in real time or you can restrict certain fields to be only updated by the administrator.
Can you import a spreadsheet with our residents' information for their online profiles?
Yes. We can take your existing data and use it to create usernames and passwords for your residents. There is no additional charge for this service. If there are new fields you're wanting to start tracking, residents will be able to log into the website and update their own profiles with the new information.
Can we have a resident directory?
Yes. We will use the resident's profile information to include in the online directory which is viewable by other residents. You'll be able to control which fields to include. Residents are also able to choose to make their details public or hide certain data such as email address, phone numbers or children. Plus we feature a powerful resident search that will find/filter residents based on multiple criteria.
Can we have a message board?
Yes. Message boards allow residents to share thoughts and post questions for other residents to respond to. Categories are also created to help keep things organized. The person assigned to be the editor is instantly notified via email of new posts so that they can monitor and edit/delete inappropriate posts.
How do we resize large photos from our digital camera?
One of the issues with sharing photos over the internet is the size of most photos produced by a digital camera are too large to effectively share online. We have the problem solved. Our Photo Album functionality automatically resizes your photos when you upload them to your website so that they are user friendly to view online.
Can we send out mass email announcements to our residents?
Yes. We have a user friendly Email Publisher that enables you to create email announcements with formatting (bold, fonts, color, bullets, graphics, links, etc). You can also target your emails to specific residents by filtering on their profile data...such as only sending an announcement to residents with children.
Can we export our resident data to make mailing labels?
Yes. You can export your resident profile data into Excel at any time. This will be useful for creating mailing labels. Although, we hope your website has drastically reduced your need to mail items to your residents.
Can we have you customize the way one of your features works?
Always let us know how you think our features could be better. If it's something all of our clients could benefit from we'll make it an enhancement request for future development. If it's something specific to your situation we'll need to determine if the customization would be compatible or restrict your website's ability to receive future enhancements. Additional charges may apply.
Can we have a custom feature that we don't see in your list of included functionality?
Let us know what you're needing and where you've seen this feature before. We'll research your request and let you know the feasibility.
Why is branding for our neighborhood important?
It is said that a brand resides in the hearts and minds of people who interact with a business. In your case, your business is both your association and your physical neighborhood. The more you show a consistent brand to those you interact with, including your own residents, the more value it creates for your fellow residents.
What printing services do you provide?
Our items range from refrigerator magnets to postcards to stationary. All items are printed in full color and on quality paper. They are also branded to match your website and fully customizable to fit your preferences. Click here for details and pricing.
How does our association benefit from your printing services?
The key benefits are improved communication with your residents and value for your association's brand. If your website was recently launched, now is a perfect time to get the word out to your residents and build the excitement. The more your residents know about the features of your website, the more they will visit which in turn helps you benefit even more from your new website.
Our printing solutions are not only for newly launched websites. Utilize postcards to announce your next annual meeting or refrigerator magnets to welcome new residents to your neighborhood. Letterhead and envelopes build a more professional and official image when sending letters to residents or to vendors.
Do we get to customize the design?
Absolutely. As a starting point, we will first create a design for you that matches the graphics of your website along with our suggested text. We will then modify the design to better fit your needs.
What is included in the pricing?
The price is a flat fee based on the quantity ordered. It includes the custom design, proofs, printing and ground shipping. View pricing here.
Should we have business cards created for each board member?
Probably not. Depending on the terms for your board positions your business cards may go out of date too quickly. Instead, we suggest placing information on your business card such as your web address, email address and details on your association. You could also create more specific business cards for the committee or primary person who normally deals with outside vendors. If you're planning on placing business cards in your welcome packet to new residents we suggest ordering refrigerator magnets instead.
Will you also mail our postcards to each resident?
Yes. If we are creating your postcards we can also label and mail them directly to your residents. Our services include taking your Excel file with everybody's names and addresses, individually labeling each post card, postage and delivery to the post office. Plus, you receive discounted first class postage rates. View our Mailing Services pricing here.
How long does the process take?
Once you place your printing order we'll have an initial design created and ready for your review in a couple days. After that, we'll take care of your design modification requests until you're happy with the final product. Once you've approved the design, we'll send the graphic files to our printing company who will print your items the next day. The items then will be ground shipped directly to you. Faster delivery methods are also available.
What if we aren't happy when we receive the items?
If there's something wrong with the quality of your printed items we'll certainly want to address the problem with the printer. We'll ask that you fax or mail us a sample so that we can point out the issue. We'll have the issue corrected and have new items sent to you free of charge. If the problem originates in your review and approval of your design proof we'll work with you for a equitable solution.
What is a domain name?
This is the same thing as a web address which is what you type in to pull up a website in your internet browser. (www.hoa-sites.com)
Will our website be viewed on our domain name?
Yes. You may find with some providers that when you type in your domain name it is redirected back to their domain name for your website's hosting. So, instead of seeing your website on www.yourdomain.com you'll see www.theirwebsitename.com/yourname. Not only does this result in neighborhood branding issues, but this can also be confusing to visitors and more difficult for you to direct people to a specific page when your website isn't hosted on your own domain name.
What if I don't have a domain name?
We'll register one for you. Depending on the plan you choose, the price for this is already built into the annual hosting fee. So, you don't need to worry about maintaining your domain name at all. We will suggest an available domain name that matches the name of your community. Then you'll get to choose the domain name you feel is best.
Should we purchase our domain name(s) before we signup?
Not if you are going to have us maintain your domain name for you. It's much easier and quicker if you allow us to purchase your domain name(s). You can instead choose to purchase your domain name(s) on your own through another domain provider.
Can we have more than one domain name?
Yes. We can register additional domains for you. Reasons you may want to have more than one domain name is if you wish to own both the .com and .org. Each domain name after your primary (the one your website is hosted on and included in your annual fee) is $15 per year per domain name (depending on your plan). We can also point the other domain names to your primary domain name so that people don't get lost.
Do we get private registration for domain names you manage for us?
Yes. We will automatically register your domain name with our privacy protection service which hides your contact information from spammers and marketing companies. This service is included for free with all domain registrations.
Can I search for an available domain name now?
I already have a domain name, can I still use it?
That would be between you and the company you have your domain name through. You can continue to keep your domain name with your current provider. You can then simply point your domain name to your new website.
If I wish to leave HOA Sites, can I still use the domain name?
Each domain name we register and maintain for you is the property of your organization as long as you are an active client. If you decide to leave HOA Sites, we will release your domain name to your new domain provider unless your website services are suspended or cancelled.
Do we also get our own email? If so, how do we access it?
Yes. Depending on your plan you receive several email accounts that match your domain name such as firstname.lastname@example.org.
You choose if you'd like to have your email automatically forwarded to another email address(s) or if you'd like to connect to it directly. Connecting directly means you can use any email software provider that supports POP3, such as Microsoft Outlook or Google's Gmail, to send and receive your email.
Can we have email forwarding?
We can set up email groups such as email@example.com, which will automatically forward all incoming emails to each committee member's email address. Forwarding can include up to 15 email addresses.
Do you offer virus and spam protection?
Yes. Both virus and spam protection are already included on all email accounts. However, this is not a substitute for virus protection software you need to have installed on your own PC. Not all viruses come through email.
Where is my website hosted?
We utilize the security and expertise of a datacenter in Virginia to house our web servers. A datacenter is a state-of-the-art facility designed to house and protect computer equipment. It's sort of like a Fort Knox for technical folks. Datacenters have their own power generators, security force, air/water supply and many levels of redundancy to help ensure websites are available to the internet. Support technicians monitor the web servers 24 hours a day to ensure they're operating at peak performance.
Can we have you design our website so that we can host it ourselves?
No. The functionality we provide for your website will only work for websites plugged into our web servers.
What is your hosting uptime guarantee?
We design and staff our hosting systems with one objective: To keep your website live 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If we fail to maintain 99.9% availability of your website during any month, please contact us and request a credit of 5% off a month's prorated hosting fee.
Will my new website be submitted to the search engines?
Yes. We will make sure the top search engines know about your HOA website and stop by for a visit periodically to get to know your online neighborhood. If you would like to learn about our search engine optimization services click here.
Can I view statistics on how visitors are using the website?
Yes. You'll be given access to view graphical charts that show stats such as: how many visitors view the website each day/month, how many pages are viewed and which areas are most popular. You can also use Google's Analytics services.
How much server space is included?
For the vast majority of our clients, the amount of space allocated for your website is more than sufficient. If the situation arises where you need more space we can certainly increase your limit.
What are the bandwidth limitations?
There are no limits on your bandwidth as long as you're using your website for official business related to your company/association. So, no music sharing with your friends etc.