Also called just ‘portal’, a web portal is a single access point to information amassed from various sources. A typical modern portal will offer features such as an online search engine, a digital newspaper kiosk, discussion boards, free communication tools (email and chat), etc. Simply put, it is an Internet gateway that serves as a starting point to access most of what the web offers.

Yahoo.com, one of the most popular web portals.
Yahoo.com, one of the most popular web portals.

Registered users can access appropriate or personalized information – in terms of the information, user interface design, color, etc. The registered area is one of the web portal components. For instance, email is among Google’s several portal-based services.

Examples of Web Portals

Search engines presenting multimedia content such as MP3 and movies, best deals sites, social sites that integrate games and apps, etc. are types of web portals. Yahoo, one of the most popular web destinations, is a prime example of a modern web portal. Besides offering e-mail, it also provides search features, news, entertainment options, stock-monitoring tools, to name a few.

History and Evolution

Web portals were not always organized. Simple Internet navigation and search sites were considered portals back in the day. Sites such as Yahoo, MSN, AOL, Infoseek, etc. represented the next level of portals. These sites offered a wide array of functionalities, but navigation and search were still their pivotal offerings.

Web portals have matured ever since their origins and can be categorized as enterprise portals, market space portals, corporate portals, workspace portals, knowledge portals, horizontal portals, vertical portals, etc.