The client is anyone who connects to and uses the eBusiness application. There is a vast array of possible hardware and software configurations that can be used to connect to an eBusiness solution. These different platforms can affect the delivery or representation of the application for the user, and therefore their impressions of your application, company, and/or products. The client configuration may even determine whether or not they can connect with your business at all.
In B2B scenarios, the client is most likely to be the office computers at another company. In many B2B cases, you will know who your likely
clients will be and what hardware and software configuration they will use. In some cases, you can even specify the client configuration and
ensure that the client machines are compatible. It may prove feasible at times to provide client equipment and/or software to a customer or supplier who will be using your eBusiness solution.
With B2C, the client configuration is less certain, particularly with new platforms such as WAP
(Wireless Access Protocol using cellular/mobile phones) and digital interactive television (iTV or WebTV) becoming more popular and the huge range of standards and versions that these platforms use. The enterprise must make a careful analysis of the targeted consumer trends to ensure compatibility and ease of use. The Easy Reference shows some of the devices/software the client may use, and some of the technical and non-technical considerations that need to be addressed for each. Click
on the Easy Reference: If you would like to download and print out the technical and non-technical considerations for client hardware, go to the Easy Reference folder on the Resources page, where it is listed along with other reference tables used in this course.
|Client configuration component||Considerations|
|Browser software ||A number of different browsers can be used, including Microsoft Internet Explorer and Netscape Navigator. Most have different capabilitiesor slightly different ways of representing things. |
|Browser version||In most cases, people tend to upgrade to the latest or latest but one version of browser software, but there can still be a huge variety of versions and subversions in use, each with different capabilities. |
|Browser settings||Most browsers are configurable with options to turn features on or off, such as content control, security factors, accepting cookies, andso on. These settings could change the way the browser behaves when it encounters certain features. |
|Supplementary software ||Browser aids, guides, plug-ins, add-ons, view bars, caching tools, and several other software elements could provide additional featuresor reduce the availability of others. |
|Proxy and firewall software ||Proxy and firewall software can also influence what can and can't be represented on the client side. |
|Computer configuration ||Different memory sizes and processor speeds will affect the performance of the client hardware and can prevent or restrict some of theclient experiences. Some hardware, such as sound cards and 3D accelerators can provide additional capabilities. Absence of these devicescould reduce performance or prevent actions from taking place. |
|Resolution and gamma settings ||Macs and PCs, and even different monitor and video card makes, can have very different gamma settings and capabilities. This could makepictures appear very different from what was intended. Clients can configure their screens with different resolutions that affect how muchcan be displayed on the screen at once and how easy the site is to use. See more in the later lesson on Web site design. |
|Display devices ||Handheld devices and telephones may impose restrictions on graphics, such as colors or even whether the graphics can be displayed.Televisions are usually viewed from a greater distance than PCs and so higher detail and smaller fonts may not be visible. |
|Navigation device ||Most PC or Mac users will have a mouse to browse with. Those on handheld devices or televisions may find navigation difficult without amouse. |
|Connection speed ||The type of connection such as telephone, ISDN (Integrated Services Digital Network), ADSL (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line), leasedline, and so on will affect how fast or slow a client can access the application. |
|Censorship ||Clients may be under some censorship restrictions imposed on their configuration by an ISP, company, or government as to what materialthey can access. |
|Location ||You should also consider the needs of international clients. Considerations associated with internationalization, globalization andlanguage will be discussed later in this course. |
A site can be configured to be device- and bandwidth- agnostic, that is, it can detect the client configuration and capabilities and change the delivery accordingly. However, this can make the application difficult to maintain and restrict reliance on technical innovations. It can also be costly to research and implement. The enterprise must decide if the importance of reaching the client devices satisfactorily justifies the cost and time investment. In the next lesson you will learn about the use of search agents and price bots in eBusiness applications.