Simulating Network Delays: Applications, Algorithms, and Tools

Andrew Sears

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Organizations are rushing to establish a presence on the World Wide Web (WWW). Researchers, designers, and users all recognize the importance of network delays, with longer delays frequently being associated with more negative user experiences. Although some delay is unavoidable, design decisions do contribute to the total delay users experience. In this article, a collection of tools that allow individuals to experience realistic network delays during informal evaluations, usability studies, and controlled experiments are described. These tools allow practitioners to more effectively assess usability in the context of realistic network delays, researchers to more effectively investigate the factors that affect the usability of information and applications delivered via the WWW, and educators to more effectively convey the importance of design decisions in the context of the WWW. This article describes how these tools may be used as well as the tools themselves, including the algorithms that make them effective. 2 approaches for validating simulations with results are presented. The first validation suggests that the simulation process utilized in the wide-area network delay simulator tools (Borella & Sears, 1997) effectively reproduces the network delays observed when retrieving material via the WWW. The second validation provides even stronger support, indicating that the simulation process can be used to reproduce a specific set of network conditions more accurately than the network itself. Directions for additional research are also discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)301-323
Number of pages23
JournalInternational Journal of Human-Computer Interaction
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2003

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Human Factors and Ergonomics
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Science Applications


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