The Motive Web Design Glossary
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
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.
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
- user authentication (log in and password)
- personalised content views (portlets); where the user can modify the content displayed on the portal homepage to match specific interests
- personalised navigation, e.g. ‘quick links’ to frequently accessed information pages
- directory-based information structure
- community-building tools: chatrooms, bulletin boards, emailing lists, etc.
- subject-specific search functionality: e.g. synonym-matching industry-specific jargon
References and further reading
- Intranet portals get streamlined (Jacob Neilsen, useit.com)
24 Oct 2005: Simplified information architecture, keeping content up-to-date and personalised portlets.
- Portals—The All-In-One Web Supersites: Features, Functions, Definitions, Taxonomy (SAP Design Guild)
Comprehensive introduction to web portals; definitions, functions, architecture, portal-types, exemplars, future trends.
- Web Portals (Open Directory Project)
List of web portals.
Motive Web Design Glossary Trivia