Web portals are sites on the World Wide Web that typically provide personalized capabilities to their visitors. They are 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.Commonly referred to as simply a portal, a Web site or service that offers a broad array of resources and services, such as e-mail, forums, search engines, and online shopping malls. The first Web portals were online services, such as AOL, that provided access to the Web, but by now most of the traditional search engines have transformed themselves into Web portals to attract and keep a larger audience (We-bopedia, 2006).
THE USES OF PORTALS
An analysis of the different opinions indicate the following elements must be present before a Web site could be called a portal:
• Single Access Point: A single gateway or logon to identify approved users, making it unnecessary to sign onto each of the different systems that provide portal content, for example, the e-learning facility, or full- text content such as digital journals or other sources of information.
• Internet Tools: These are site search and navigation tools to provide users with easy access to information. Examples are calendars and planners to allow users to input and share events, as well as Web-site and content builders, offering them the ability to create and have customised content being made available according to individual profiles.
• Collaboration Tools: These include e-mail, threaded discussions, chat, and bulletin board software that offer a whole range of ways to communication and share information.
• User Customisation: A typical portal prompts the first-time user via a series of fill-in windows to provide information about him/her. This is then stored in the portal’s database. When that user authenticates to the portal, this information determines what he/she will see on the home page immediately after login.
• User Personalisation: A portal enables the end user to take customisation one step further, namely to subscribe and unsubscribe to channels and alerts, set application parameters, create and edit profiles, add or remove links and many more.