Some designers have taken the rise of broadband to mean that graphic intensive pages are now acceptable, that 600k Flash intros are suddenly desirable, and that otherwise bombarding the user with bandwidth-hungry sites is commendable. Sadly, plenty of users are still on dial-up, using 28k, 33.6k or 56k modems, and it's all too easy to forget that when you're surfing on a high speed office connection or even your home broadband.
With that in mind, I've put together a
modem emulator (or is it a modem simulator?) . In theory it should allow you to view your site through the eyes of a user with a slower connection. In practice, it isn't perfect, but might give you an idea of how some of your users actually experience your site.
A word of warning as well - the tool is tested (though not extensively) with sites that I use or have built. There will be unusual sites that don't work with this tool (flash is so far untested for example). Please email me if you have any problems.
The emulator suffered a great deal of abuse in the past, mainly by people wanting to bypass work internet filters. Unfortunately, that has meant that I have had to add a few features to the tool. The primary change, for my own sanity, is a blacklist of URLs. I hope to not have to change this to a whitelist, but that option is available should the need arise.
To use it, simply enter your URL and the speed you'd like to see the site go, and the script will show you the page desired loading as it would on a slower connection.
The tool has been taken offline, and the code has been released under an open source license. There's some background on the change here.
Finally, someone is bound to ask, so to save myself the time answering later - no, this cannot show you how your site will load on a faster connection than you have yourself :).
Update 29 December 2006
The emulator has been tentatively reinstated with some features to enable me to manage it.