Archive for January, 2011

Help EPA: We need a map!

We’re under a tight deadline to produce a map similar to the one at

To be clear, we just need a static image with rollovers that appear as you mouse over a state.  Not a Google-like map, not anything fancy or GIS-based.  Just an image that will show a little info and then let people click the state to go to a page w/more info about that state.’s map is done with Flash, but we want to do it using Javascript and CSS for easy maintenance and accessibility.

Got any ideas or examples to share?  Yours or other people’s?

We’ve got a mockup that’s quite good, but the little popup balloon appears in different places in different browsers.

Here’s an example of what’s happening.  I was pointing at Nevada, so the text is right, but obviously the balloon’s in the wrong place:

What’s interesting is that the balloon shows up in different places in IE, Firefox, Safari, and Chrome.  Apparently, mouse tracking works differently across browsers.



Home Page Heat Maps

At EPA, we’ve started using regular heat maps to experiment and assess success on our home page.  These visual presentations show where people are clicking – hotter colors mean more clicks.

Every month, we update our popular topics list based on what people are searching for. We also often try out new features. So we also do a heat map run every month. For example, over the past few months we’ve moved around the popular topics and we’ve added a map with links to regional content.

I just compared the heat map from November 2009 to the one just completed, and I’m pretty pleased.  The stuff at the top hasn’t changed, and it’s still clicked a lot.  But many other areas are being clicked a lot more (more intense colors in more places). I interpret that as meaning that more people are finding what they want on our home page.

Neither the tool nor the page are perfect, of course.  And there’s plenty of other stuff we look at and consider. And not everyone will agree with our overall design (I know some folks think our banners are too big). But it’s nice, now and then, to get a sense you’re moving in the right direction.

November 2009 (Download 7MB PDF)

November 2009 EPA Home Page Heat Map - very few areas are lit up, indicating not much was clicked a lot

January 2011 (Download 7MB PDF)

January 2011 EPA Home Page Heat Map - many areas are lit, and most of those are bright, indicating many more clicks in each than shown for November 2009

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