Web Portal Gateways

Web Portal Gateways

Arthur Tatnall (Victoria University, Australia)
Copyright: © 2006 |Pages: 5
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59140-799-7.ch195
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The term Web portal is overused and takes on a different meaning depending on the view of the author. This article will investigate the concept of a portal, the various types of portal, and how portals are currently being used. A Yahoo search of the Web in February 2004 revealed 85 million entries for the word portal, and even allowing for a considerable degree of overuse and overlap, portals are seen everywhere and span a bewildering range of topics and interest areas. It would be difficult to make any use of the Web without encountering one. In general terms, unrelated to the World Wide Web, the Macquarie Dictionary defines a portal as “a door, gate or entrance” (Macquarie Library, 1981, p. 1346). More specifically, a Web portal is seen as a special Internet (or intranet) site designed to act as a gateway to give access to other sites (Tatnall 2005a). A portal aggregates information from multiple sources and makes that information available to various users. In other words a portal is an all-in-one Web site whose prime purpose is to find, and to gain access to other sites, but also one that provides the services of a guide that can help to protect the user from the chaos of the Internet and direct them towards an eventual goal. More generally, however, a portal should be seen as providing a gateway, not just to sites on the Web, but to all network-accessible resources, whether involving intranets, extranets, or the Internet. In other words a portal offers centralised access to all relevant content and applications (Tatnall 2005b). Historically, the Web-portal concept probably developed out of search engine sites such as Yahoo!, Excite, and Lycos, which can now be classified as first-generation portals. These sites, however, quickly evolved into sites providing additional services such as e-mail, stock quotes, news, and community building rather than just search capabilities (Rao 2001). Eckerson (1999) outlines four generations of portals whose focus, in each case, is: generic, personalised, application, and role. The success of a portal depends on its ability to provide a base-site that users will keep returning to after accessing other related sites. As an entranceway onto the Web (or an intranet) it should be a preferred starting point for many of the things that a particular user wants to do there. A useful goal for those setting up a portal is to have it designated by many users as their browser start-up page.

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