Web portal

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A Web 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.

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[edit] Development of Web portals

In the late 1990s, the Web portal was a hot commodity. After the proliferation of Web browsers in the mid-1990s, many companies tried to build or acquire a portal, to have a piece of the Internet market. The Web portal gained special attention because it was, for many users, the starting point of their Web browser. Netscape Netcenter became a part of America Online, the Walt Disney Company launched Go.com, and Excite became a part of AT&T during the late 1990s. Lycos was said to be a good target for other media companies such as CBS.

Many of the portals started initially as either web directories (notably Yahoo!) and/or search engines (Excite, Lycos, AltaVista, infoseek, and Hotbot among the old ones). Expanding services was a strategy to secure the user-base and lengthen the time a user stayed on the portal. Services which require user registration such as free email, customization features, and chatrooms were considered to enhance repeat use of the portal. Game, chat, email, news, and other services also tend to make users stay longer, thereby increasing the advertising revenue.

The portal craze, with "old media" companies racing to outbid each other for Internet properties, died down with the dot-com flameout in 2000 and 2001. Disney pulled the plug on Go.com, Excite went bankrupt and its remains were sold to iWon.com. Some notable portal sites, for instance, Yahoo!, remain successful to this day. To modern dot-com businesses, the portal craze serves as a cautionary tale about the risks of rushing into a market crowded with highly-capitalized but largely undifferentiated me-too companies.

Because of the continuing expansion of the internet, future web portals that find large success may need to provide portals that access the whole internet, and not just a single media company or conglomerate's internet content. Beginning in 2003, websites like ifoyer.com began using this approach to provide users with portals that attempt to provide internet access from the top down.

[edit] Regional Web portals

Along with the development and success of international Web 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.

"Local content - global reach" portals have emerged not only from countries like India (Rediff), (MswPower.Com) and China (Sina.com) but also like Italy (Webplace.it) and so on. Such portals reach out to the widespread diaspora spread across the world.

[edit] Government Web portals

At the end of the dot-com boom in the 1990s, many governments had already committed to creating portal sites for their citizens. In the United States the main portal is FirstGov.gov; in the United Kingdom the main portals are Directgov (for citizens) and businesslink.gov.uk (for businesses).

Many U.S. states have their own portals which provide direct access to eCommerce applications (e.g., Hawaii Business Express and myIndianaLicense), agency and department web sites, and more specific information about living in, doing business in and getting around the state.

Many U.S. states have chosen to out-source the operation of their portals to third-party vendors. The most successful company to date for this is NICUSA which runs 18 state portals. NICUSA focuses on the self-funded model, and does not charge the state for work. Instead it is supported by transaction fees for its applications.

[edit] Corporate Web portals

Corporate intranets gained popularity during the 1990's. Having access to a variety of company information via a web browser was a new way of working. Intranets quickly grew in size and complexity, and webmasters (many of which lacked the discipline of managing content and users) became overwhelmed in their duties. It wasn't enough to have a consolidated view of company information, users were demanding personalization and customization. Webmasters, if skilled enough, were able to offer some capabilities, but for the most part ended up driving users away using the intranet.

The 1990's were a time of innovation for the concept of corporate web portals. 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.

JSR168 Standards emerged around 2001. Java Specification Request (JSR) 168 standards allow the interoperability of portlets across different portal platforms. These standards allow portal developers, administrators and consumers to integrate standards-based portals and portlets across a variety of vendor solutions.

[edit] Entertainment Portals

An essential part of community based networking and collaboration. All members of a portal are responsible for its content and direct the type of entertainment that is available to visitors to the site. An example of one such portal is the South African Music and Entertainment portal Overtone

[edit] Environmental Portals

In recent years, many Environmental Portals have been developed in order to raise awareness about Environmental Indicators. Such an Example is the EUSOILS (European Soil Portal)

[edit] Mini Portals

Some localized portals are based on local interests, and edited and maintained by individuals. While they do not provide the same levels of services as major portals, they are a good place for collaboration of ideas, for commonly interested people.

[edit] Voice Portals

In addition to standard web "sites" accessed through web "browsers", people can also access voice "sites" through voice "browsers". Destinations accessed in this way by standard telephones are often called Voice Portals.

[edit] Standards

[edit] Emerging standards

[edit] Other Sources

Bauer, H. H., M. Hammerschmidt, and T. Falk (2005), "Measuring the Quality of E-Banking Portals," International Journal of Bank Marketing, 23 (2), 153-175

[edit] External links

id:Portal web ms:Web portal cs:Internetový portál da:Webportal de:Webportal es:Portal (internet) fr:Portail Web it:Portale he:פורטל nl:Portaal (internet) ja:ポータルサイト pl:Portal internetowy pt:Portal (internet) ru:Интернет-портал simple:Web portal fi:Portaali (Internet) sv:Webbportal yi:פארטאל zh:门户网站

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