A portal is a broad and generic term. A portal typically
refers to a website that offers many different services within that website.
This one website, such as Yahoo!, Microsoft (MSN), America Online (AOL), and
Google can offer services such as email, search engines, online shopping malls,
news, weather, games, and financial information like stocks. A portal is broad and generic because there are many
different types of portals. There are many types of web portals such as general portals, niche portals, government portals and enterprise portals.
As the first web portal is not really known, web portals became popular during the mid to late 1990’s. Around that time, the most popular web portal was probably American Online because not only did it provide the services of web portals mentioned above (email, search engine, weather, etc…) but it also gave an instant messenger (AIM) which is still a popular communicating device, as well as being an Internet Service Provider (ISP). Due to increasing technology with ISPs and other web portals, AOL’s popularity has decreased over the years. Most ISPs nowadays offer faster connections in conjunction with other household features such as telephone and/or television. For instance, AT&T offers DSL internet service, as well as home telephone service, as well as AT&T U-verse which is their television service. All these services can be grouped into packages where it could be cheaper than subscribing to AOL for internet, AT&T for telephone, and Dish Network for television. Another popular service provider that groups these services into packages is Comcast, offering Cable for television, high speed Cable for internet, and Digital Voice for telephone services.
Web portals are more common than most people may think. Most
web portals evolved from being just web directories or search engines into a
web portal that gives a user access to a multitude of services through that one
website. For instance, many may just believe that Google, Yahoo!, and MSN are
just search engines, but they provide a user with an array of many different
services through their website. For email, Google offers Gmail, Yahoo! offers
yahoo mail, and MSN offers hotmail. Then these web portals also offer many
entertaining features such as news articles and interactive games, like Poker
and Billiards. They can also help users find a product for cheap through the
web portal’s online shopping mall. These web portals also allow for users to
access important financial information such as stocks. The importance that the
innovation of these web portals became increasingly important to the websites
because it increased the time a user would stay on the service provided by the
web portal, which increased the amount of advertisements a user may see and
click on. These web sites generally make their profit through advertising, most
notable Google and its Ad-words.
Types of Portals
With the emergence and popularity of web portals, many
different types of portals also arose such as niche, government, and enterprise portals.
The portals already spoken of are also general portals that do not particularly specialize in any single thing. There are also now portals that specialize in a certain area or field such as Eastbay.com for sports enthusiasts and SoleCollector.com for shoe collectors and urban wear enthusiasts.
Government Web Portals
In regards to government web
portals, it gives users (normally anyone can access it) the capability to
access a wide range of information. It can give users just general information about
a topic the user may want more information on or important information that a
user can use to possibly apply for citizenship or grants for housing or
education. Government web portals also provide recent government news as well
as a search engine.
In regards to corporate web portals, or Enterprise portals, a user (typically a consumer or an employee) is given access to corporate information, company history, and other services or resources.
Enterprise Portal (Information Week)
Enterprise Portal (Wikipedia)
Web Portal (Wikipedia)