Definition of Web Portal
A web portal is a term, often used interchangeably with gateway, for a World Wide Website whose purpose is to be a major starting point for users when they connect to the Web. There are general portals and specialized or niche portals. Some major general portals include Yahoo, CNET, AOL, and MSN. Examples of niche portals that are accessible to the public include Garden.com (for gardeners), Fool.com (for investors), and DPReview.com (for photographers). Private niche portals are those that are used by employees of a company. Companies such as IBM and MasterCard use portals to help disseminate information to their employees in a timely and efficient manner.
A number of large access providers offer portals to the Web for their own users. Most portals have adopted the Yahoo style of content categories with a light-weight, text-based page that loads quickly. Companies with portal sites have attracted much stock market investor interest because portals are viewed as able to command large audiences which in turn translates to a large number of advertising viewers.
Typical services offered by public portal sites include a directory of Websites, a facility to search for other sites, news, weather information, e-mail, stock quotes, phone and map information, and sometimes a community forum. Private portals often include access to payroll information, internal phone directories, company news, and employee documentation.