Minimum system requirements

When planning a multimedia or web site project you will need to identify a profile of the average intended end-user's computer system. This involves 5 processes ...

  1. Profile your potential end-users Research your average end-user to determine a profile of the computer system you can reasonably expect them to have access to. Click here to read about how to do this
  2. Write down the results of your research in the form of a minimum system requirement specification
  3. Build your project to run on such a system. If you can build it ON such a system
  4. Test your project on as many systems as possible that conform to the minimum system requirement specification
  5. Publish a minimum end-user computer specification for your project so that end-users know what is required for problem free viewing

What are minimum system requirements?

Minimum system requirements are a list of hardware and software elements that a computer system requires in order to run an application, or a project smoothly.

Example minimum system requirement specification

The minimum system requirement will vary depending on how your project is targeted at. Here is an example one (July 2005) ...

RECOMMENDED MINIMUM SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS
For optimum performance this project requires .....

For the PC ...
- a Pentium III (or better) processor
- Windows 2000 or above
- an 8x speed CD-ROM drive
- 1000s of colours 800 x 600 resolution capable display
- QuickTime 4 or better
- Shockwave plug-in
- Flash plug-in
- 50Mb of free application RAM
- multi-channel sound(card) audio capability

For the Mac ...
- a G4 (or better) processor
- Mac OS X 10.2 or above
- an 8x speed CD-ROM driver
- 100s of colours 800 x 600 resolution capable display
- QuickTime 4 or better
- Shockwave plug-in
- Flash plug-in
- 50Mb of free application RAM
- multi-channel sound(card) audio capability (built-in on all Macs)

Determining a minimum system requirement

A minimum system requirement specification is usually arrived at by 3 processes ...

  1. Researching potential end-users. Click here for an article on how to profile an end-user.
  2. Determining a minimum system performance below which the effectiveness of your project will be fatally compromised. There is always a balance to be struck.
  3. Having good working knowledge of current "base level" computer systems and costs.

Where should you publish your minimum system requirements?

It is important that a potential user of your project is aware of the minimum system requirements before purchasing, installing or running your project. Therefore you will need to ensure end-users know what they are.

Depending on your project you will need to publish minimum system requirements on ...

  • Packaging (boxes etc)
  • Manuals
  • CD and DVD case inlays and booklets
  • Read Me files placed on the root level of a project where they are clearly visible
  • Warnings on the index page of a site.