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Hotmaths - usability challenged

By Murray Bourne, 19 May 2007

[UPDATE: (Jan 2013) I went back to have another look at HOTMaths. See my current impressions in HOTMaths Revisited.]

HOTmaths is "interactive mathematics online", an offering from Australia. Their blurb claims:

Designed as a complete mathematics learning system to support teachers and students in the classroom and with the homework process, HOTmaths is also a very effective and inexpensive home tutoring system.

I have gone back several times to check out this site, since my first experience was really bad and I wanted to give them the benefit of the doubt.

On my first attempt, it took 22 seconds to load the homepage (I don't mean fully load - I mean before I could see anything at all). That's pretty bad when you are using a broadband connection.

Many of the pages are all Flash - with no ordinary HTML text, making search through the lessons very difficult. Why does it matter? The majority of Web users find what they need via search and then quickly scan for information. If I can't search and I can't scan, I usually go elsewhere.

The "hot" flame on the homepage (presumably representing the heat of the moment) is very irritating and not user friendly. The menus for Students, Parents and Teachers only appear if you "flame over" them. Usability studies show that this is not the way.

It told me endlessly (via annoying popups) that I must have Adobe PDF Reader. But I use Foxit to read PDF - there was no option to tell it to stop annoying me with the message.

I checked out one of the demos (on 3D "nets" for making boxes and the like), which took 59.63 seconds to load. The total file size of that page was 272 kB. How do students on dialup get on?

The demo said:

Click "Show Me" to see solids unfolding to form nets.

I clicked and nothing happened.

In the middle of "Looking at Nets", one page took 1.57 minutes to load and was 497 kB.

The Scorcher is apparently popular. The blurb says:

Use Scorcher to develop your competence and confidence with fundamental mathematics.

Browser Problems

The alignment of part of the page has problems in Firefox:

join FF

In IE, the alignment is better, but that "System requirements" link is almost impossible to read:

Join IE

More Recent Experience

To be fair (as I said above), I thought I should have another few goes. Page load times have improved, but that homepage is still there (flamingly annoying...).

Are any of you using HOTmaths? What are your opinions?

See the 7 Comments below.

Leave a comment

Comment Preview

HTML: You can use simple tags like <b>, <a href="...">, etc.

To enter math, you can can either:

  1. Use simple calculator-like input in the following format (surround your math in backticks, or qq on tablet or phone):
    `a^2 = sqrt(b^2 + c^2)`
    (See more on ASCIIMath syntax); or
  2. Use simple LaTeX in the following format. Surround your math with \( and \).
    \( \int g dx = \sqrt{\frac{a}{b}} \)
    (This is standard simple LaTeX.)

NOTE: You can mix both types of math entry in your comment.


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