Since the release a couple days ago, we have received many emails concerning:
– Why responsive design for HotelEngine while we have always claimed that a mobile version is more suitable for our themes?
– Why built a mobile version for the previous themes: JobEngine, ForumEngine & ClassifiedEngine, instead of just applying responsive design for them?
HotelEngine and the first three themes seem in contrary in approach at first glance, but they’re not. The difference applied was made after countless times of product meetings and we have many reasons for them. Here are some important points:
1. HotelEngine targets a different group of customers and serves a different purpose.
HotelEngine is for anyone in the hospitality business who wants to showcase his beautiful accommodations online. Since site owners are able to build their own pages using our included page builder, a responsive design helps a lot to make sure those final works can also be demonstrated fully in mobile devices.
While HotelEngine focuses on the beauty side, our previous themes are targeted for a different purpose – the content. It would be the job listings in a job board, or threads in a forums, or ads in a classified site. Here come the dedicated mobile versions, which are best for keeping the focus of the site. You should never try forcing the desktop user experience into a small-size one using responsive design, especially for complex sites.
2. HotelEngine is more of a website than an application theme.
There are many elements that form a complicated “application theme”. In our previous themes, it can be the frontend control support for the admins, the posting flow of the employers (or sellers in CE) or the searching and filtering tasks of normal visitors. Again, using responsive design to bring these flows from the desktop version to small-size devices is a bad idea. Your mobile version will end up heavy-loaded, buggy and the interactions cannot be smoothly handled.
On the other hand, with a hotel website using HotelEngine, responsive design is effective for demonstrating every beautiful aspect of your accommodations without affecting the user interactions.
3. Content in HotelEngine isn’t user-generated like in the previous themes.
This is also an important point. The content in application themes is mostly user-generated and there are also many user roles in the site. To cover the content-posting flows for each role in mobile devices needs extra work and should be separated from the desktop experience.
The frontend functions for desktop version are too much for mobile devices to handle, and simply choosing responsive design and hoping it would work okay for mobiles sounds irresponsible. Moreover, it would also make the customization work (when needed) become much more difficult.
Developing a dedicated mobile version is the most suitable way to achieve this goal. Our mobile versions for our current application themes are quite simple at the moment, but our 2014 plan includes more focus works on them.
In conclusion, we think responsive design for HotelEngine has been a correct choice till now. What do you think? Share your opinions in the comment section below. We would love to hear more from you.
P.S. Our Classy theme, which completes the HotelEngine package, will be released tomorrow. Really can’t wait until then. 🙂