Profiling end-users

When planning a multimedia or web site project you will need to create a profile of the average intended end-user. You need to do this in order to be sure that your project will be relevant to them and work adequately on the computer systems they will be using.

As you build your project there are 3 processes you will need to undertake to ensure your project will work on your intended end-user system ...

  1. Profile your potential end-users (who is the project aimed at?) and the computer systems they will be using to view your project.
  2. Determine a minimum system requirements for your target end-user computer setup that you can reasonably expect your end-users to have access to.
  3. Build your project in such a way that it will run on the end-user computer system.

1 Profiling end-users

You must consider the following issues when profiling your end-user ...

Personal information

... such as ...

  • Age
  • Sex
  • Nationality
  • Language
  • Disabilities
  • etc

Location

Where will they be viewing the project? At home, school, internet cafe, college, work etc? It may not be possible for your end-user to install plug-ins that your site requires (Flash, Shockwave, Acrobat Reader etc)if they are at work or school using a networked computer under the control of an IT manager.

Hardware

You will need to know the following about the end-user system ...

  • Screen size Screen size is perhaps the most important decision you will need to make. Click here for help on making the right decision.
  • RAM Will they have enough to run your project?
  • Processor speed
  • Sound playback facilities ... headphones? speakers?
  • Optical drive type (CDROM or DVDROM)
  • Optical drive speed

Operating system

Mac OS9, Mac OSX, Unix, DOS, Windows 95, 98, 2000, XP? All these systems have their differencies and if you want your project to run on all of them you will have to design it carefully. On the other hand, if it is only going to run on an intranet or kiosk, you will know the exact specification and can author for it. Get stats here.

Internet connection

What type and how fast? Dial up, broadband?

Browser

Which one and which version? IE3, 4, 5, 6, 7, FireFox, Safari? They all have their differencies in how they handle JavaScript, CSS etc. Get stats here.

Plug-ins / file helpers

Have they got the Flash, Shockwave, QuickTime, PDF etc plug-ins installed? Can they easliy install them?

2 Minimum system requirements

Minimum system requirements are a list of hardware and software elements of a computer system required in order that a project plays adequately.

Click here for advice an article on Minimum System Requirements.

3 Building your project

As you construct your project you will need to refer often to the minimum system requirement specification you have created and test it on as many systems as possible that adhere to it .