My Home Owner's Association has a web site that's pretty sparse. I thought that I would take a bit of time to create a new site for them using Drupal, and increase my Drupal skills. There's nothing like throwing yourself into the fire to get out of the comfort of the frying pan, you know? So I was thinking about some features that I might like as a home member of the association, and how I might accomplish them with Drupal.
The first thing I'm going to want to do is get a theme that pleases by aesthetic sensibilities. It's not that the Drupal themes are ugly per se, but they all seem to offer the content in the same way - with the admin stuff exposed for anyone to see. I think that I want the full administrative side of the site to look different than the typical member-facing side. Rather than providing all of the functionality of Drupal the way Drupal does, I would like to select specifically what features appear on the site, and display them in an appealing fashion.
There are some features that I would like to offer. I think that a message board is important for our community. If people could post events to the board and others were subscribed to it, we could all be aware of things in the community that were of interest to us. Having a kind of "classified" section would be nice, too. People could sell items to other people in the community, and offer services, like babysitting. (Oh, that would be fantastic.) It would be extra interesting if you could subscribe to only those channels of interest that you wanted, so then I could eliminate from my feeds things like Historic Yellow Springs events, in which I have no interest.
It would be nice if we had a good event calendar. We could keep track of things like when construction is due and when the nearly-monthly lawn treatment is set to happen. There are some people in the development that take care of the plants around the entrances in the common areas. With a calendar, we would have an idea of when they are active so that other people could help.
Posting photos of events in the community could be useful, but I don't know of many things that have happened that would have photos. The one even on the existing site is for cleaning up part of the walking trail, an event that you wouldn't even have known was taking place if not for word of mouth. See? We need a calendar.
The site would need to have association information. This includes phone numbers for all of the companies with whom we have service contracts would be great - trash, recycling, sewage, landscape, snow removal, etc. Today I noticed that once again the mower people were laying around all day, with their parked trucks blocking a lane in the main through-way, then suddenly started mowing around 4:45pm before everyone started coming home. Not that I mind seeing topless Mexican men laying in the common areas with hats over their faces, but... No, wait, I do.
There should also be web-based forms for requests common in the association, for things like outside maintenance or requests for pools. The site could keep a record of the requests and the request documents, which could be uploaded as PDF or TIFF and referenced as-needed. But for common applications, a web form would be great - allowing more flexible use of property in a more timely manner. We're already using the site for board elections, so I think this is a natural step to take.
Minutes from the association board meetings could be published in a timely manner. It bugs me that I have to wait until the next meeting for the board to approve minutes from last month. Without attending the meetings, I have no way to know if I should act. What should happen is the minutes should be compiled by the secretary, then published to the web privately for the board to approve electronically. When the minutes are approved, which could be two days after the board meeting, the system would put them online for viewing by the association members.
It might be neat to have a map of the development in flash. Show the homes that have registered users in a different color. Let you measure distances on the walking trail.
There are a lot of good directions to take the site, and the existing site is pretty lackluster. I think it needs some love. I'll have to see what I can come up with.