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The effect of network delay and media on user perceptions of web resources

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This research experimentally examines the effects of network delays, document type, and various user characteristics on the perceived usability of distributed documents on the internet. Six experimental conditions were analysed: text only documents and documents including text and graphics at three levels of delay. Users were undergraduate and graduate students who reported spending zero to 50 hours per week on the internet. Usability was assessed by analysing responses to questions about ease of locating information, information organization, information quality, and navigation problems. The results showed significant interactions of network delay and document type on subjects' perceptions of quality, organization, navigation, and several additional factors that are important to organizations providing information on the internet. Both the number of hours subjects reported spending using the internet and subjects' self-reported command of the English language were significantly correlated with perceptions of various aspects of the internet sites examined. While the results indicate that internet users may prefer highly graphical web sites, it appears that they are unwilling to tolerate substantial delays. As a result, users in the study preferred plain text documents as delays increased.
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Document Type: Regular Paper

Affiliations: 1: Department of Industrial Engineering, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1513 University Avenue, Madison, WI 53706, USA 2: Information Systems Department, UMBC, 1000 Hilltop Circle, Baltimore, MD 21250, USA 3: Advanced Technologies Research Center, 3Com, 1800 W. Central Road, Mount Prospect, IL 60056, USA

Publication date: 2000-11-01

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