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Software is hard, I get it. I myself manage an engineering department and it can be surprisingly difficult to get “little” changes implemented. Some customers don’t like change. Getting internal stakeholders to all agree on what should change, why, and how can be tedious and time consuming. Legacy technology and technical debt can really slow down your development teams. If I were responsible for the RV Life engineering department, I’d obviously have better insight into their development constraints and product roadmaps than I do now. I’d also have a significant degree of control over product direction, release frequency, customer communication, and other such things. However, like all RV Life users on the outside, I’m in the dark, wishing I had a better idea if and when I can expect some of my fantasy features to become reality.
I once posted a suggestion in the RV Life Campgrounds forums and have contacted the Trip Wizard folks a couple times, but I don’t want to be a pest with my unsolicited advice. Instead, I decided to just publicly maintain my personal wish list right here. Who knows, maybe someone at RV Life will take notice.
This post might not sound like much of a pitch for the RV Life product suite, but I mean it when I say it’s the best there is—and I’ve played with every RV oriented website and app that’s out there. I still use others like Campendium here and there, but RV Life remains my go-to source for RV park information. Personally, I think Social Knowledge—the owner of RV Life—is sitting on a gold mine and squandering the opportunity to completely blow the competition out of the water. I sincerely hope they start investing heavily into their applications before newcomers like The Dyrt catch up. If you’d like to start a free trial of RV Life, click here.
Improve page load performance: Every single page takes two to five seconds to load, even on my broadband connection. My user profile and favorites pages take even longer. Improving load times would make the entire application feel snappier and less lethargic.
- As of June 2022, this is no longer an issue. Every page is now snappy and responsive.
Filtering & Searching
- Filter by cell service provider: User-submitted cell service data is already collected by Campgrounds, but there is currently no way to search based on this information. The ability to narrow down search results to only campgrounds that have strong cellular data service available would be exceptionally helpful – especially for folks like us traveling worker bees who generally cannot go to places without strong internet access. Users should be able filter results by cell provider
(T-Mobile|Verizon|ATT)and/or average speed for each provider
- Filter by ‘favorited’ campgrounds: I’ve spent many hours curating my favorites lists. I should be able to see my favorites plotted on a map, either all at once or by one or more specific favorites list.
- Search by ‘tag’: I’ve noticed that a subset of campgrounds have special “tags” assigned to them, such as “Highly Favorited Park” or “No Minors – 21+ Only”. I would love to see the entire list of highly favorited parks and the ones that only allow adults! Surely I’m not the only one. I’m also curious to see the full list of these ‘special’ tags.
- Blacklisting campgrounds: Every campground should have a ‘don’t show me this again’ button because every user has had the experience where the same crappy campground pops up in your search and you just don’t want to see it again.
- Larger search map: The search map on desktop browsers is too small. It should take up most – if not all – of the browser’s real estate. Like Harvest Hosts or Google Maps. There is an existing full screen toggle, but enabling it means disabling access to your filters.
- Hide Closed Parks: Parks like this which have been closed for an extended period of time, shouldn’t even show up in search results.
- Minimum Number of Reviews: I often disregard RV parks with less than two reviews. It would be nice if I could eliminate parks from my search results if they have less than a certain number of reviews set by the user.
- Minimum Number of Pictures: I always disregard parks without even a single picture. Allowing users to eliminate all sites without pictures would be helpful.
- Add notes to favorite campground at save time: Currently, in order to add a note to a favorite, you have to add the campground to a favorites list, then go to the favorites ‘list of lists’ page, then open the specific list containing the campground you just saved, then find the campground, and then – finally! – you can add a note. It would be so much easier if we were prompted to enter a note right when the campground is saved.
- Enable using
Escto close the campground image gallery modal. Currently, the only way to close the image gallery is via mouse click.
- Add a shortcut to toggle expanding and collapsing the full text of all reviews on the current page. I really dislike having to constantly click “read more” as I’m flipping through review after review.
- Add a shortcut to jump to the next/previous review.
- Show only favorites: It would be really handy if I could click a button – or press a keyboard shortcut – and only see my favorited campgrounds on the map. Another click – or another keyboard press – could revert to showing all available campgrounds. Even better: allow users to show either all favorites, or just favorites from a particular list.
- Blacklisting campgrounds: Who hasn’t had the experience of trying to find a campground in a specific geographical area, found none of the available options particularly appealing, and deemed one or more as especially unattractive? Wouldn’t it be nice to click a button on those especially unattractive campgrounds to forever hide them from your search results?
- Consolidated calendar export: Currently, Trip Wizard allows you to export an individual trip as an
icsfile or a URL, either of which can then be imported into another calendar system. This is great, and I use it all the time. But I’d love to also have the option to export all my trips into a single feed.
- Disable zooming when a stop is clicked in the trip planner drawer: Any time you click a stop in the planner drawer, the map zooms in on that stop. For me, at least, this is never desirable behavior. Instead, I prefer the map to stay at its current zoom level, usually so I can see the driving radius perimeter and select an appropriately-distanced next stop. If other users find the autozoom useful, then the behavior should really be optional.
- Custom names for waypoints: Right now, waypoints are named using a simple pattern of
waypoint2, etc. It would be helpful if users could give these meaningful, custom names instead.
- Show total daily mileage & driving time: Let’s say I start with a long drive day between destinations. Then I add several stops along the way. Trip Wizard will only show the time and distance from stop to stop, which is helpful but inadequate. It should also show a daily breakdown of total time and distance so users don’t have to mentally calculate how many miles and hours they’ll be driving over the course of a given day.
- Improve the ‘open trip’ workflow: The current workflow for opening trips is unnecessarily convoluted – especially if you already have another trip open. First, you click the “Open a Trip” button on the top nav bar. Then you’re presented with the “My Trips” fly-out drawer, which lists all your trips. So far, this is fine. But then if you click on a trip you want to open, you’re presented with the choice of either opening it or – inexplicably – deleting it. Guiding users through the process of opening a trip and then offering an unsolicited opportunity to delete the trip is a bit confounding. Why are you asking me if I want to delete the trip I just said I wanted to open? Setting that non sequitur aside, if I click “Open” and another trip is already open, I’m then asked ‘are you sure you want to close the current trip and open this other one?’ I don’t think this prompt is necessary, for several reasons. First of all, I’ve already indicated that I want to open this trip – twice: once when I clicked the trip in the “My Trips” drawer, and again when I clicked “Open” instead of “Delete”. Secondly, in my opinion, ‘are you sure’ dialogs should be reserved for circumstances where a user is at risk of losing data. Here, there is zero risk of data loss. Worst case scenario, the user has to re-open the previously opened trip. Below is what I would propose, instead of the current workflow:
- Reword the “Open a trip” button on the top nav bar to say “Manage Trips”.
- When “Manage Trips” is clicked, open the “My Trips” drawer. (No change here.)
- Overlay each trip with icons that appear on mouse-hover: some sort of ‘open trip’ icon that will open the selected trip and a trashcan icon to delete it.
- If ‘open trip’ is selected, open it straight away. No need to ask the user if they’re really sure.
- If ‘delete trip’ is selected, then present the user with an ‘are you sure’ dialog because now they are at risk of losing data.
All RV Life Applications
- Publish a public product roadmap: Show us users what specifically we can look forward to over the following 12 months or so!
- Publicly solicit user feedback: Create a UserVoice instance, or something similar, so users can publicly submit feature requests and bug reports. Enable commenting and voting on these submissions.
- Increase the frequency of updates: The “What’s New?” menu illuminates with disappointing infrequency. Looking at Campgrounds right now, I see only two minor updates in the past six months. One is the application’s rebranding from “Campground Reviews” to “RV Life Campgrounds”. The other is a show of support for Ukraine. Trip Wizard has three “What’s New” entries, two of which center around the new ‘open trip’ workflow. To me, this seems very slow. Of course, as I said earlier, I don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes. I’ve seen a number of job openings for new developers, which I take as a positive sign. There’s also this blog post from February that says “this year, we will be tackling a complete rewrite of the entire site, focusing on ease of use and mobile access.” Hopefully the end result will include the faster deployment of improvements and new features!
What do you think?
What are your favorite “missing” features from RV Life? Let us know in the comments below! And if you’d like to start a free trial of RV Life, click here.