Communication is one of the key elements of a Condo Association. In today’s day and age, an online presence is becoming mandatory for most entities, and Condo Associations are no exception. Web expertise is highly commoditized, and you can easily hire someone or find a volunteer from within your Association to help you carry out the actual act of building the website. The part that a Board and Management need to worry about is exactly what you want on your Condo Association website.
There are two types of websites that you may want to build. This blog post is focused on an external-facing Condo Association website. This is a website that the whole world will see. The primary functions are to advertise your community and provide a point of contact for neighbors. Accordingly, you won’t want to put anything private, like internal documents, on the external website.
Identify the Community
First, you want to identify the community. This is the basic stuff – the address, the type of community association that you are, and any public-facing information you want to put out there. You should provide contact information to your Management office and potentially also a link to your Board. Ideally, put some instructions next to each to try to get people to the right place. For example, you might write, “For maintenance issues, neighbor issues, or other operations, please contact building management at (email, phone, etc.).” You could specify, “For Board issues, contact…” Or, to keep it simple and just list Management.
Making your contact information easily available comes in handy in a wide variety of instances. You might have neighboring buildings or businesses who might need to get in touch for some reason.
A final thing to consider is links to any social media accounts your community operates. If you do not keep your social media accounts well-maintained, do not link to them. Nothing looks cheesier than a social media account with the last post in 2014.
Advertising the Community’s Quality of Life
Now that you’ve established who you are, you have an opportunity to show off a bit. Consider adding some photos that capture the community. If you’re newer construction or a conversion, you could use marketing photos from the builder. Alternately, you can hire a photographer to take some shots of the building. Try to capture aspects of your building that you are proud of. If you have a fantastic pool, gym, or landscaping, get those pictures. If you have any other differentiators, like active sports leagues, for example, you might want to advertise those as well. Are you close to mass transit, local parks, or other attractions? Advertise away!
Do not post photos of Owners – at least without permission. Even with permission, this can be dicey. Better to be safe than sorry.
Direct Owners to Your Internal Site, If You Have One
If you have an internal-facing website – which will be the subject of a future article – you’ll want to send a link to that site for Owners. If you’ve done a good job with the external Condo Association website, chances are they’ll find your external website before the internal one when they google it. Make their life easier with a quick link to the internal site – such as a “Owners Click Here for Condo Management” which directs to the internal site.
Make Sure the Board and Management Own the Site
Often in Condo Associations, you get an eager Owner who volunteers to help out. This is great and should be encouraged. However, when it comes to your website details like domain name, hosting, etc., make sure everything is in the Association’s name and paid for by the Association. Also make sure all passwords are solely in possession of the Board and Management. Sometimes volunteers move away, or they might get into a dispute with the Board, and they could be unprofessional, and the last thing you want is your website hijacked by an angry Owner.
While you’re at it, you also might consider trademarking your name and logo. Brandan Hallaq of the Michigan Community Association Law Blog wrote this fantastic article on this issue. It turns out copyrighting is actually cheaper than you might think, and it affords substantial legal protections. It is definitely worth your time, particularly if you’re a larger Association.
If You’re Proud of Your Community, Show It Off
If you’ve got a great community, you should show it off. Having a website that highlights your community can be both a point of pride for Owners and also give you a better presence for resale value. Everyone googles everything these days, so having a clean, crisp Condo Association website that shows off your community’s features is something that can help attract more interest to your property.