In my last CUP article – www.MyCondoNeedsAWebsite.com – I discussed the 2017 statutory changes that require associations with 150 or more units (which do not manage a timeshare) to have websites. This month, I continue the discussion by providing some important questions to ask anyone offering to create and/or host a website for the association.
- What is the cost of the URL/Domain Name (annual basis)?
- What is the encryption (security) for the site?
- What will it cost to design and maintain the website? How many pages/subpages does this cost provide? Who does the site uploads and how frequently can they be done?
- What are the server storage costs and how are they calculated? How can the association estimate the cost when gathering the documents required by the statute?
- Is there a limit to the number of usernames and passwords the site will allow? How is user access terminated when an owner sells the unit?
- Is the website an open or receptive web design, making it easy to view from a computer, tablet or phone? What happens if the company that designs/maintains the website or stores the documents goes out of business?
Note that these questions, once answered, may lead to more questions. This is to be expected given each association’s unique needs and it means that there is no one-size-fits-all answer. For example, if the association has an in-house staff to manage updates directly there is obviously no need to pay a third party for updates and site maintenance but the association may, however, find it more economical to have a third-party vendor handle the website design and initial content upload. Also, an association may have an IT department capable of providing technical guidance but not actually handling the set-up and design, while still other associations may have no IT department at all.
It is also important to know that many of the answers and representations of the designer/host should be part of the contract to ensure proper expectations and enforcement. The contract should also be reviewed by the association’s counsel given the language of the new law (§718.111(12)(g)), in addition to the traditional need to ensure a contract protects the association rather than only the vendor who prepared it.