The word ‘Portal’ derives from the medieval Latin word Portale, meaning Citygate. American Heritage Dictionary defines a portal as a doorway or an entrance, or a gate, especially one that is large and imposing. Web Portal is the single access point of information for employees, customers, and suppliers. It provides information about employee training, safety manuals or customer profile. It also helps to create interactions between employees, customers, and suppliers. A web portal provides greater control over the day- to- day process of a business. It can be accessed quickly and easily from any location in a laptop, desktop or smartphone. Nowadays each and every small business firm has a portal of its own from where customers can easily get an idea about the company and their products. Moreover, the larger companies or even companies those have smaller brand names are targeting the world market rather than the local one, they are providing huge discounts to attract customers. These companies update their websites on a daily basis so that it looks attractive and people become aware of the benefits that companies are providing. Web Portals are capable to handle both structured and unstructured information. Web Portals are equally important to both B2B and B2C businesses. The larger e-commerce industry like Amazon, Flipkart, Snapdeal updates its web portals on a daily basis. They always appreciate the feedback of the customers by maintaining great communication with them through these web channels.
History of Web Portals
In the late 1990s, influenced by web browsers many companies tried to build a web portal to obtain a share in internet marketing and for some companies, it became the starting point of their web browsing. Companies like Walt Disney, IBM launched a web portal like Go.com and Prodigy, even Netscape became a part of America Online. Web Portals were widely used in B2B and B2C businesses in the 90s. My.yahoo.com is the most used web portal in the business sector. California State Government used the first government portal to offer customization and financial transaction and business. Since 1990 web business communities had always look after to invent fast search engines rather than paying attention to the data structure.
Advantages of Web Portals
In modern days portals are very important for promoting and marketing a new business as well as increasing the number of customers for old ones. They are as follows-
- They distribute applications
- To provide service from a number of different sources
- Portals are designed to share collaboration in the workplace
- They can work on multiple platforms irrespective of location.
- HR portal describes the company policies and also onboarding process
- HR Portal highlights recruitment process and job description
- Sales Portal always tries to improve visibility for a new and existing business.
- Sales Portal tries to improve the network with the help of the community
- Sales Portal looks to gain access to quality leads and get insights about product, industry, and competition
- Sales Portal looks to create alternate sales channels and take advantage of the best policies.
Various types of web portals
- According to their functions, there are various types of web portals in today’s date.
- Personal Web Portal
- Government Web Portal
- Cultural Web Portal
- Corporate Web Portal
- Tender Portal
- HR Portal
- Sales Portal
Personal Web Portal
Personal Web Portals are generally business portals where MSME and SME entrepreneurs share various information, news, and updates about their respective companies in order to promote their business. It is basically a marketing strategy to promote a new business.
Government Web Portal
Nowadays the government is creating various government websites for its citizens. Some notable government portals are as follows –
Disability.gov for citizens with disabilities in the United States.
Europa (web portal) links to all EU agencies and institutions in addition to press releases and audiovisual content from press conferences.
GobiernoUSA.gov for the United States (in Spanish).
gov.uk for citizens & businesslink.gov.uk for businesses in the United Kingdom.
india.gov.in for India.
Cultural Web Portal
These websites give access to various cultural information as well as the heritage of a country not to the citizens of that country but also to the whole world. Some cultural sites are as follows-
Digital Public Library of America (in development)
DigitalNZ – A cultural portal led by the National Library of New Zealand focused on New Zealand’s digital content.
Corporate Web Portal
Corporate sectors are using their websites to spread their business worldwide and increasing the number of customers in this process. In the age of online marketing updated web portals are very important for any corporate sector as they get the maximum number of customers through this portal.
Educational Portal has been developed to fulfill the needs of the educational community in the region. It gives access to various educational resources to assist in learning and practices. The main motto of the educational portals are-
bridge the gap among students, educators, parents, and administration, in order to increase interactivity and communication and to facilitate collaborative work and research.
enhance students’ awareness and exploration of educational resources available on the Web, and thereby create opportunities for the students to increase their learning potential.
increase the use of the web by students and teachers and thereby foster further adoption of Information Society ideals within the educational community.
HR Portal is the homepage where an employee can access HR-related information like an employee handbook, safety manual, policies, forms, and benefit summaries. This portal is designed and implemented by HR practitioners which allows the interactive exchange of information for 24 hours a day with minimal effort by the HR staff. Some of the renowned HR portals are as follows – #HRTailgate, #Nextchat, and #Hr Chat.
The basic work of a sales portal is to increase sales effectiveness by delivering information and tools that should help salespeople to close a deal. The sales portal should inform, educate, nurture and connect the employees of a company to help them engage with each other in productive activities. The goal of the sales portal is improving customer experience by creating transparency between departments. Sales portals keep a track of the whole sales process from lead nurturing to the conversion and the company also gets aware of the ratio generated leads and conversion. Some of the top B2B sales portals are –Sugar Paper, Buff, Walmanoptical, Chexfoods, and Hechizo. Besides the B2B sales portal, there are some B2C sales portal as well as – Chobani, Starbucks, Spotify, Herschel Supply Co, Everlane,Taco Bell, Threadless, Toms, Edeka and Purina.
Web Portal Development Life Cycle:
Web Portals can be developed just for business purposes where an admin can only access and add business-related information. One can add any type of functionality. At first, one may feel that developing a web portal is a daunting task but with the right skilled developers and the organized workflow, it becomes quite easier. Just like the websites, web portals also have some stages of development. This development involves three stages – pre-development stage, on-going development stage, and post-development stage.
Pre-development stage: This stage requires extensive planning before initiating the development of a web portal. Some certain things that must be considered before starting the development of a web portal is discussed below.
purpose of the web a portal: What is the purpose to build a web portal? This is a very certain question one must keep in mind before starting the development of any web portal as the development would be done on the basis of its purpose.
goals of the web portal: One must have a goal before creating or developing something. The goal here is basically the motive of development or creation. So one must clear about its goal to develop a web portal, whether he/she wants to make money or share information and also have some plans for the future.
Research and market analyses: Research of the present market is important to determine the future of any web portal. One must analyze the number of present competitors along with the market analyses to check the percentage of annual growth.
Target Audience: Target audience is one of the most vital aspects of any startup or existing business. Knowing who is going to benefit from your product or services and who is going to buy your is very important for any businessman as you will instruct your developer to start designing your web portal accordingly and assure that the actions attract the audience.
Portal development lifestyle is majorly divided into four stages.
This stage includes designing the actual look and proper detailing.
Elements that must be included while designing a web portal.
Simple navigation allows users to search for their required information easily and navigate through the portal with ease.
Information about the business. A brief about us page is a must to build trust among users.
A proper contact information page is needed so that a customer can reach out to you when needed.
Provide search tools so that readers can easily find the things they want.
Image size should be appropriate so that it should not hamper the portal speed.
Maintain a similar web font throughout the portal.
A web portal consists of multiple pages related to different aspects of the business and the development stage is devoted to taking care of all these.
The developer has to keep things in mind-
Portal load time should not exceed the average time limit of 3sec.
It should be easy navigation.
The user interface has to be proper and according to user requirements.
Provide all required information that is related to searches like the catalog, images, and videos.
Staging Part #1 – Testing:
Complete clone of a live environment is created to stress test the web portal and before doing the final deployment test its functionality and final bugs.
Web Portal should be tested for-
Compatibility with every platform
To be viewed properly in every browser version.
Web Portal should be tested by Integration Testing, Stress Testing, Scalability Testing, Load Testing, Resolution Testing, Cross-browser compatibility Testing, etc.
Staging Part #2 – Deploying the Portal:
After the completion of the testing process and fixing the found bugs if any now the final deployment will be done.
Production is the live environment of the web portal and it is the responsibility of the administrator to manage the portal. It is managed by the administrator who performs various tasks like instrumental updates of metadata, managing content on portal and web assets using automated scripts.
After the portal becomes live to the audience and started working properly it has to be further managed by the administrator who goes back and forth process of a portal development cycle. One can use specific portal development tools to manage Web Logic Portal applications and resources.
The two management can be used here-
Library Administrator: Library Administrator helps the admin to manage certain things –
- Look and Feel
- Portlet Producers
- Portlet Categories
Portal Administrator: Portal Administrators assembles and entitles parts of the portal to users and other administrators.
Portal Development by using best Technologies:
In e-commerce business interaction with customers is the key to have an efficient and proper flow. In the web portal, one can add its brand identity and promote the brand. Before getting the benefits one has to first create a portal. Now the question is how web portals are created? The origin of web portals are web search engines and have evolved through web push technology to its mature model in the late 1990s. Only a few libraries had adopted web portal technology till 2003 despite widespread use of my.yahoo.com type websites in business sectors. In modern days various technologies are used to develop a web portal and among these using one of the suitable languages to develop a web portal is essential.
Java: Java is one of the mainstream programming languages on the internet. It is an independent programming language that supports numerous operating systems.
PHP: PHP is an interpreted script language that is used to imply the PHP Hypertext Processor language. It is the most prominent content management systems including WordPress, Joomla and Drupal is written in PHP
.Python: Python is a very intense and adaptable language. It is the preferable language for hackers as it can do quick scripting and make hacking software.
.Net: Net is used as the framework for Microsoft Sharepoint Application Development and Web-based applications. It is a windows based framework. This is an excellent framework for enterprise solutions and applications developed for the monetary sector.
Web Development Tools:
Web Development Tools have come quite a long way in these few years. We can access highly tested libraries to improve the workflow and can be benefitted by greater possibilities while making various designs. As the web tools are increasing on a high note so finding suitable software seems to be a daunting task. There is a list of essential tools to get one started –
- Chrome Developer Tools
- Twitter Bootstrap
Twitter Bootstrap: When anyone starts to build front-end applications regularly then it will be noticed that the same patterns are emerging. In order to solve this issue UI frameworks are abstracting common elements into reusable modules so that developers can cover up the elements of new applications quickly and easily. Bootstrap, developed by twitter is the most widely used UI. Bootstrap is complete with tools to normalize stylesheets, building modal objects, adding Java script plugins, etc.
Angular.js: HTML has not been designed to manage dynamic views rather it is usually the cornerstone of any developer’s toolbox which some considered as a serious flaw. Angular.js lets one extend applications HTML syntax which will result in a more expressive, readable and quick to develop an environment that could otherwise not possible by HTML alone.
Sass: Sass is an open-source project which defined the genre of modern CSS preprocessors. Although a little bit tricky to get the first grip but its combination of variables, nesting, and mixins are the renditions of simple CSS when it is compiled and so stylesheets will be more readable and most importantly DRY(Don’t Repeat Yourself).
Therefore, anyone can create their own web portals for their respective businesses or show personalized content for users. One just needs to be aware of the purpose of building a web portal as it will be designed accordingly.