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(web) portal

Portals can be classified as either ‘horizontal’ or ‘vertical’; a horizontal portal caters to a general audience and provides a broad range of content and services; a vertical portal caters to a niche audience and provides more targeted offerings.

A web portal is a site (often a system) that creates a single point of access to information collected from different sources.

The benefits of a portal

Information structure

A portal offers a structured approach to navigating information, e.g. by subject (category) then sub-category. As the information hierarchy is created by people, it is more likely to relate to the user’s query than a search engine keyword search. An additional benefit is that the information structure may improve a user’s contextual understanding of the subject area.

Consistent interface

Once familiar with the portal, users are able to easily locate (and relocate) information and services. This is often a key driver for the creation of government portals, e.g. govt.nz (New Zealand government), Directgov (UK government).

Common portal features

Related terms: directory, gateway

 

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