A History Of Web Portals

Learn how web portals can be utilised and how they have evolved over the last twenty years since they were introduced in the mid-1990s.

A web portal is essentially a collection of various information sources that could come from either external sites, or other internal areas of the website you’re visiting. A typical web portal allows users to configure their own ‘dashboard’ with information about topics that are of relevance to them. These might be news alerts, stocks and shares info, email or social networking at the touch of a button.

A Brief History of Web Portals

Web portals came into existence in the mid to late 1990s. Many users chose a web portal such as My Yahoo or AOL as their home page and they were the best way for the standard user to find information of relevance on the Internet, when search engines had yet to hone their skills in producing relevant search results. Companies were quick to realise this and the race was on for many to build or acquire their own web portals in an attempt to gain a large portion of Internet traffic.

A History Of Web Portals

Development of Company Portals

By the end of the 1990s, towards the end of the dot com boom, many governments had committed to building their own portal sites for their citizens, so that users could access content of relevance. For instance, the UK’s government portal allows users to renew tax for their vehicle, log-in to their student finance, pay their tax bill or book a driving theory test.

Also gaining pace in the late 1990s were the number of company intranets, as employees saw the use in sharing and updating files in a centralised location. However, IT support staff were becoming increasingly challenged by the demands of their organisation.

Standard intranets were unable to fulfil their needs, so the web portal offered a more efficient way of sharing collective information. Web portals continue to provide a more personalised solution for users and allows for better workflow management and communication between work-groups. Data, apps and information can all be accessed more easily through the use of web portals in an organisation.

Today, web portals provide companies with secure systems that allow clients and staff to login to upload and access information and progress workflows. This is the type of web portal development that is in highest demand at the moment. Complex CRM systems and ERP platforms allow all areas of a business to access near real-time information that is stored within a central database. These portals are designed to be accessed on a range of devices, from desktop PCs to mobile phones and tablets. By being always on and always reporting, businesses are able to identify new opportunities in the market and react rapidly to changes.

Modern-Day Portals

Nowadays, there is a web portal for everything. Property portals such as Rightmove or Zoopla, high street banking portals, recruitment portals, council portals and university portals for students are all on offer. Portals have developed radically since their inception two decades ago.

Current content discovery is the main aim of modern day portals and this can facilitated by using software that enables real-time updates. New portals also have inbuilt ERP (enterprise resource planning) software that enables the integration of various customised add-ons. These might include enterprise-pricing models that have designed a way to charge end users for subscription services.

However, advertising networks are also able to use ERP solutions for their marketing needs, as they can easily deploy banner ads and integrated widgets into a portal in order to drive traffic back to their own merchant sites.

Although there are no guarantees, many would predict that web portals will still be around for many years to come. Content discovery is still of vital importance to users, so as long as web portals continue to evolve and utilise social media enhancements, then they should still continue to serve a purpose throughout 2016 and beyond.

Karen Harding is the marketing manager at Objective IT, one of the South East’s leading web and software development companies.

Categories: Computers & Tech

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