Types of Web Portals: Overview
You may have heard the old adage—all rectangles are squares, but not all squares are rectangles. Websites and portals are like this. Not all websites are portals, but all portals are indeed websites. Portals are sites that are often personalized to you. Two people can have access to the same exact portal, yet see different things when they log in. Portals are also able to serve a wide array of its users’ needs.
The internet has come a long way since its birth in the 80s. Portals came about ten years after the internet’s genesis in the iconic era of the 1990s. The word portal has its roots in the old Latin word portale, which roughly translates to English as “city gate.” As you learn more about what portals are, and what they can do, this terminology will begin to make perfect sense to you. Portals really are doors that open to an entire universe.
A one-theme universe of related systems and tools—that is. Portals provide users with a way of taking care of interconnected tasks all in the same corner of the internet. There are far too many types of portals to walk through every single one of them here. This article will provide you with some examples of the most popular portal types, though. Additionally, it will walk you through the pros and cons of creating one for your own business. And, if you decide that you want to, it gets you started on how to do this.
Most Popular and Common Types of Web Portals
If you asked a layperson you stop on the street what a web portal is, they likely will not be able to give you a comprehensible definition. Yet, odds are, they have used tens, if not hundreds of them before! Most people are familiar with the concept of a portal and are just not aware that it exists as separate from that of a website. The following is a list of some of the most recognizable portal types:
- Intranet; and
Most people with access to technology have used at least one, if not several, of these portal types before. They are great ways to cut down the amount of time it takes for people to do tasks all related to one entity. The following section will walk you through defining features of each, and, what they are most commonly used for.
Offering a customer portal on your company website is a great way to incentivize brand loyalty. They also pair great with reward programs! If you visit almost any famous retailer’s website, you’ll see a little button in the right-hand corner that says log in. After logging into your account, or creating an account if you do not have one, you will be able to view all of your personal interactions with that company in one place.
Most of them have tabs such as “view your most recent orders” and “register a return.” Many of them will also have a section where you can “view your rewards.” The companies will provide buyers with points that they can watch add up on some type of visual bar graph. Then, when they reach a certain level, such as 10,000 points, or gold status, the customer will get a certain percentage or dollar off of their next purchase.
Portals thus incentivize customers to continue buying merchandise at that store, that way they can keep adding to their rewards status. They also reduce the effort that it takes for them to keep shopping with the same person. And, it can lead to habit formation that works in the company’s favor.
If you run a large business, then it probably makes sense for you to build an employee portal if you do not already have one. Some examples of huge businesses that could benefit from a portal include, but are not limited to:
- Major law firms;
- Accounting companies;
- Marketing research firms;
- Medium to large retailers;
- Chain restaurants;
- And more!
Examples of systems that are utilized in these portals are requesting time off, submitting weekly time cards, and reaching out to human resources with a question, amongst others. Having a portal also enables management to send messages to all of their employees, or large groups of their employees, at once. If a company wanted to close the office for a holiday, all they would have to do to alert their employees is enter a brief message into their own portal and hit send. Many firm portals also have a chat feature that enables workers to talk amongst each other.
Research portals are popularly hosted by institutions of higher education. However, they do not have to be. Most of them require their user to either pay tuition at the school the research portal is attached to, or pay a subscription fee to access the content on the site. Some of them are indeed free though and exist as non-profit entities to further the education of the public.
An example of a public research portal is a public university’s archive. The archive is typically linked to its library. The archive can contain anything from videos of historical footage of revolutionary marches to artwork and poems written by names that have long been forgotten.
Google Scholar is often thought of as one of the best research portals around. Its slogan—stand on the shoulders of giants—is representative of its existence. Anyone can type something they would like to learn more about into the Google Scholar search bar and view thousands of published results related to their topic of interest. The results can be in a variety of forms, from books to podcasts and digital articles. The beauty of portals is that they are amazing at mixing platforms.
Gone are the days when a mother with a sick child would call the home telephone number of the neighborhood doctor, who would proceed to make a home visit. These days, the mother would visit the portal of her local hospital system, such as that of the Mayo Clinic or Saint Jude’s Children’s Hospital. Then, she would enter her personal username and password to log in to her account. In her account, she would likely see the health records of everyone in her family. And, she’ll easily be able to click a button to make an appointment in the soonest slot available with the doctor she has taken her child to many times before.
Healthcare portals also allow service providers to communicate with patients about test results, medication directions, and more! It can even process user data and allow customers to view their health information in amazing ways. For example, if a patient gets bloodwork done every six months, a portal can store this data and create a chart showing the user their blood results over time.
Whether the portal is for a surgery center, a cancer specialist, or psychological services, it will enable a patient to take care of all of their health needs within the one webspace.
Governments were actually one of the earliest adopters of the web portal. Nearly all national governments that exist have one today. The United States of America’s portal can be found here, for example. If you were to navigate to it, you would find that you could do everything from learning how to file your taxes to beginning your process of migrating to the United States, and everything in between.
Federal governments are not the only ones that utilize this webspace. State and local governments do as well. For example, if you have ever had to pay a pesky parking ticket that was left on your windshield, you likely did this in a local government portal such as this one.
Education Institution Portals
Education institutes utilize portals to centralize all the information that’s important to them into one place. Large higher-education institutions, such as Harvard University, have massive portals that are personalized to different types of students, ranging from undergraduate to graduate students and Ph.D. prospects. At the higher education level, portals are used to apply for a degree, choose classes, and change majors.
However, huge famous universities are not the only ones that have portals. Even many tiny grade schools, middle schools, and high schools have them! At a lower level, these websites may be used to hand in assignments or register one’s attendance. And, communicate pertinent information to students, such as the announcement of a snow day!
Payment methods can also be brought into these portals. And, let’s say a student doesn’t pay their tuition, but rather, their parents do. No problem! Third-party access can be given to people’s portals to enable a parent to pay for a child’s tuition and allow the child to use the site to register for classes, all at the same time.
Intranets are similar to what employee portals or educational portals would offer a user. However, they are different in the sense that they are typically completely private. This means that for a user to access it, they need to be invited by a host and allowed to create an account. Then, to visit the site, they need to input their login information every time.
There are tons of relevant examples of intranet portals out there. Some popular ones are group scheduling sites where multiple people can input their availability, and a manager can book a meeting that everyone can make. Another one might be a company’s group calendar, where people post upcoming events that everyone in the private portal is invited to.
Now that you have a better idea of what portals are, you may be wondering about the answer to a new question. Should you construct a portal for your own company? If you want to, how should you go about it? Doing it yourself? Or hiring someone to do it for you? And, will it cost a lot of money to build and maintain? If you are wondering about these questions, then jump down to the next section. It will walk you through the reasons you may want to create a custom web portal for your business, and how to do it as efficiently as possible.
Why You Should Create a Custom Web Portal for Your Business
Not every business has to have a custom web portal to be successful. However, having one typically can only help a company. The beautiful thing about portals is that they are also helpful in virtually every field. Some reasons to create a custom portal for your business, no matter its size, are the following:
- Creating a smoother experience for your users;
- Combining your business systems onto one portal;
- Making it easier to collect more data from your users;
- Being able to contact related parties easier and all at once;
- Allowing your customers to do more on your site; and
- Having all of your information in the same place.
The above reasons are only the tip of the iceberg. Having a web portal will also help your business come across as more professional. And, it will make it easier for you and your customers. The better your portal is, the easier it will be for your users to find what they are looking for on your site. And, the easier it will be for you to organize your site in a way that elevates your search engine optimization (SEO) and sales. The better your business is, the more resources you will have to dedicate to your online presence. It’s a never-ending positive feedback loop!
Businesses do not have to net millions of dollars every year to be able to afford a top-tier portal. Even small mom-and-pop shops can have portals! While they can be expensive to start up and maintain, they don’t have to be. It all depends on the help that you get.
If you try and build a portal yourself, it will likely take up a lot of your time and money. And, you may be left with a sub-par product. By enlisting the assistance of honorable web portal developers such as AppKong, you will be able to build your dream portal at a comfortable price.
AppKong offers flexible packages that can help a business with any budget generate a portal. And, the developer enables you to be as involved or uninvolved in the process as you would like to be. If you want, you can ask for our turnkey services to have a fully finished portal in an unbelievably small amount of time. Reach out to one of our customer service representatives today to get started on a plan that works best for you. Your employees and customers will thank you. Heck—you’ll thank yourself!