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What is a web portal and what types of portals

What is a web portal and what types of portals
A portal is a web site that acts as a multi sources or single source for all information on a specific domain. The Web portal offers the user a broad array of information, arranged in a way that is most convenient for the user to access. When designed, implemented and maintained correctly a web portal becomes the starting or entry point of a web user introducing him into various information, resources and other sites in the internet. It has the power to draw together a common group of people, common on the basis of their age, profession, location etc.
Portals are browser-based applications that enable activities including connecting business processes within the business and across the supply chain by unifying access to structured and unstructured data, integrating applications to support the business processes as well as providing access to real-time, current and consistent information.
Popular Portals are Yahoo, MSN etc.

Types of portals
The portals can be differentiated on the basis of their content and intended users.
There are a different types of portals, most of the time we will refer to a portal as a place packed with enterprise information, it is important to know what type of portal you want to build. Surely, some portals may focus on an other type of portal.
They can be categorized into:

- Vertical Portals
These are web portals which focus only on one specific industry, domain or vertical. Vertical portals provide tools, information, articles, research and statistics on the specific industry or vertical. As the web has become a standard tool for business.
There are innumerable possibilities for establishing special vertical portals on the market. The numerous solutions can be divided into 2 major groups that partially overlap:
*- Corporate Portals:
provide personalized access to selected information of a specific company
*- Commerce Portals:
support business-to-business and business-to-consumer e-commerce

- Horizontal Portals
These are web portals which focus on a wide array of interests and topics. They focus on general audience and try to present something for everybody. Horizontal portals try act as an entry point of a web surfer into the internet, providing content on the topic of interest and guiding towards the right direction to fetch more related resources and information. Classic examples of horizontal portals are, etc which provide visitors with information and on a wide area of topics.

- Enterprise Portals
These are portals developed and maintained for use by members of the intranet or the enterprise network. In today’s demanding business enterprise the key to productivity of the employees depends on access to timely information and resources. The most common implementation of enterprise portals focus on providing employees with this information on a regularly updated manner along with document management system, availability of applications on demand, online training courses and web casts etc along with communication in the form of emails, messaging, web meetings etc.

- Knowledge Portals
Knowledge portals increase the effectiveness of knowledge workers by providing easy access to information that is necessary or helpful to them in one or more specific roles. Knowledge portals are not mere intranet portals since the former are supposed to provide extra functionality such as collaboration services, sophisticated information discovery services and a knowledge map.

- Corporate Portals
An corporate portal provides personalized access to an appropriate range of information about a particular company.
Corporate portals have become one of the hottest new technologies of the Internet. Initially called intranet portals - corporate portals existing for the benefit of the company’s own employees, this set of technologies has developed to assist and provide access to a company’s business partners (suppliers, customers) as well.
As opposed to public web portals, corporate portals aim at providing a virtual workplace for each individual using them - executives, employees, suppliers, customers, third-party service providers. Rather than offering access to consumer goods, services, and information, corporate portals are designed to give each individual using them access to all of the information, business applications, and services needed to perform their jobs.
A company’s public Website itself is not automatically a corporate portal. It can become one if the Website provides personalization and navigation functionality, as many are beginning to do.

- Market space Portals
Market space portals exist to support the business-to-business and business-to-customer e-commerce, software support for e-commerce transactions and ability to find and access rich information about the products on sale also, ability to participate in discussion groups with other vendors and/or buyers

All the above definitions have merits when it comes to explaining what a portal is and what a portal can be, in fact a mixture of the definitions to create a vertical portal in that you are serving a niche sector of a market - but you may determine that you wish to make it content centric and include profiles to enhance the user experience - and you may or may not decide that users will be able to read information only (making it an Information type of portal) or you may elect to allow them to collaborate on content depending on the nature of the portal.

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