A web portal presents information from diverse sources in a unified way. Apart from the search engine standard, web portals offer other services such as e-mail, news, stock prices, infotainment, and other features. Portals provide a way for enterprises to provide a consistent look and feel with access control and procedures for multiple applications, which otherwise would have been different entities altogether. An example of a web portal is MSN.
Two broad categorizations of portals are Horizontal portals (e.g. Yahoo) and Vertical portals (or vortals, focused on one functional area, e.g. salesforce.com).
A personal portal is a site on the World Wide Web that typically provides personalized capabilities to its visitors, providing a pathway to other content. It is designed to use distributed applications, different numbers and types of middleware and hardware to provide services from a number of different sources. In addition, business portals are designed to share collaboration in workplaces. A further business-driven requirement of portals is that the content be able to work on multiple platforms such as personal computers, personal digital assistants (PDAs), and cell phones/mobile phones.
A personal or web portal can be integrated with many forum systems.
Regional web portals
Along with the development and success of international personal portals such as Yahoo!, regional variants have also sprung up. Some regional portals contain local information such as weather forecasts, street maps and local business information. Another notable expansion over the past couple of years is the move into formerly unthinkable markets.
Corporate web portals
Corporate intranets became common use during the 1990s. Having access to company information via a web browser ushered in new way of working. As intranets grew in size and complexity, webmasters were faced with increasing content and user management challenges. A consolidated view of company information was judged insufficient, users wanted personalization and customization. Webmasters, if skilled enough, were able to offer some capabilities, but for the most part ended up driving users away from using the intranet.
Many companies began to offer tools to help webmasters manage their data, applications and information more easily, and through personalized views. Some portal solutions today are able to integrate legacy applications, other portals objects, and handle thousands of user requests.
Today’s corporate portals offer extended capabilities for businesses: workflow management, collaboration between work groups, and policy-managed content publication.
In addition, most portal solutions today can allow internal and external access to specific corporate information using secure authentication or Single sign-on.
Hosted web portals
As corporate portals gained popularity a number of companies began offering them as a hosted service. The hosted portal market fundamentally changed the composition of portals. In many ways they served simply as a tool for publishing information instead of the loftier goals of integrating legacy applications or presenting correlated data from distributed databases. The early hosted portal companies such as Hyperoffice.com or the now defunct InternetPortal.com focused on collaboration and scheduling in addition to the distribution of corporate data. As hosted web portals have risen in popularity their feature set has grown to include hosted databases, document management, email, discussion forums and more. Hosted portals automatically personalize the content generated from their modules to provide a personalized experience to their users. In this regard they have remained true to the original goals of the earlier corporate web portals.
A number of portals have come about that are specific to the particular domain, offering access to related companies and services, a prime example of this trend would be the growth in property portals that give access to services such as estate agents, removal firm, and solicitors that offer conveyancing. A number of portals have come about that are specific to the particular domain, offering access to related companies and services. Along the same lines, industry-specific news and information portals have appeared.
Web portals have also expanded into the professional sports market. Fans of sports teams create a Sportal (sports portal), which brings all information about a professional sports team to one web portal.