Web development can be broken up into two main components: websites and web portals. While these two terms are often used interchangeably, they are not the same. Both websites and web portals feature a web-based interface that can be accessed on nearly any internet-enabled device.
Businesses may use both types of web application development to reach their target audience and to accomplish a specific goal. However, it is important to understand the differences between websites and portals.
What Is A Website?
A website is defined as a collection of interlinked and publicly accessible web pages that share a domain name. Anyone can create a website, including individuals, groups, companies or organizations that want to share information, products, services or resources with the public. These publicly accessible websites are what make up the World Wide Web that people know and love.
Websites can be found on nearly any topic, from news sites and educational sites to social media platforms and e-commerce stores. The homepage of a website typically constitutes the main page and serves as a “hub” for accessing other pages. Each individual page of a website is an HTML document and is connected to other pages through a series of hyperlinks often found on the navigation bar for convenience.
Online users can discover websites by directly entering the URL into the address bar or by searching for the website on a search engine, such as Google or Bing. Websites are hosted on servers and require a web browser, such as Firefox, Chrome or Internet Explorer. A website is further categorized by its domain level which can help users determine the authority of the site. For example, a site ending in .gov is a government agency site while an educational institution site ends in .edu.
What Are The Benefits Of A Website?
Websites are designed to provide a wide range of functions, such as the following:
- Provide Contact Information – Businesses may use a website to post their contact information such as their address, phone number, hours of operation and similar contact details.
- Build Credibility – A professional website often reflects the professionalism of a company. Many businesses use websites to showcase their products or services. Websites can also be used as a portfolio to show proof of past work.
- Answer Questions – It is common to find a list of frequently asked questions on a website. These lists aim to answer commonly asked questions from online users and to eliminate any confusion a potential client may have about a brand, product or service.
- Reach New Customers – Websites can be very effective for reaching new customers. It is important for businesses to have a way for potential customers to contact them and a website can be used for this purpose.
- Describe a Story or Mission – Many organizations use websites to tell their story or to describe their mission. This can be a great way to get people interested about a particular cause or to encourage people to help the organization grow.
Websites can be static, dynamic or interactive. A static website is one with fixed content found on web pages. The content remains the same until the webmaster makes modifications. These web pages often contain plain text and may have rich media, such as photos or embedded videos. However, the information remains more or less the same no matter where or when the user visits.
Dynamic websites may deliver a wide range of content when a user visits. These sites are designed to automatically modify based on various criteria, such as content, templates or scripts. This means that the content is renewed each time that a user visits the website. Dynamic websites are generally built using languages like Python, PHP and JSP.
Interactive websites are websites that are designed to engage and connect with the people that use them. These sites often contain graphics that are designed to entertain and keep users interested in the page content. When on interactive websites, users can leave suggestions or comments and receive feedback from the business and other users. Interactive websites are an excellent way to better understand customers.
There are several features of a website that are typically not present on a web portal. First, no login is required for a regular website and the site can be accessed by anyone with a web browser. The content can be viewed at any time and does not change for different individuals. In addition, websites may have some interactive features but do not reference a personalized database.
What Is A Web Portal?
A web portal is a web-based platform designed for a particular group of people, such as customers, employees or suppliers. Web portals provide the target audience with a single access point to information. Portal content is managed through application windows, databases and sometimes cookies. They often include a range of resources, such as calendars, to-do lists, announcements, discussion groups, address books, bookmarks and access to weather and maps.
What makes web portals so popular among businesses is that they offer customized, user-specific views. For example, a college university’s web portal may contain specific content based on the user’s role (e.g., student, faculty, administrator). The role of the person logging into the web portal will also determine what content they see as privileges may be limited for certain users.
There are different types of web portals designed for different functions. Vertical web portals are used for particular industries, such as construction, while horizontal portals appeal to a wide range of interests. Customer portals are often used on e-commerce websites to allow customers to see their order history or to track packages. In the workplace, an employee web portal may be made available to allow staff to see their work schedules and benefits information.
What Are The Benefits Of A Web Portal?
Web portals offer a wide range of functions that can be useful for modern companies, such as the following:
- Improve Interactions – Many businesses use web portals to make it easier to interact directly with clients or customers. Web portals tend to be more interactive than standard web pages which can help companies better target their audience.
- Enhance Customer Experience – When customers are able to look at the information they need, such as a list of past orders, it enhances the overall customer service experience and saves customer service representatives significant time.
- Streamline Communications – Communication is improved with the use of web portals. Employees and management can interact with one another on a secure platform and applications can be easily integrated across sales, HR, finance, marketing and more.
- Tailored Promotion – With web portals, businesses can easily promote their products or services in a clear and consistent way. Tailored branding is another benefit that companies can enjoy from the use of portals.
- Better Security – Security is a common problem across both websites and web portals. Web portals tend to be more secure than average websites as users are each given a unique login username and password.
There are several unique features that are seen on web portals but not on standard websites. Web portals generally require users to log in to verify their identity and to provide custom content relating to the individual. Only portal members can see the content on the portal, meaning it is not accessible by the average web user. Content on a web portal is unique, and is based on the linked account information and the member’s permissions and settings. Portals may also offer interactive functionality, communication features and a secure access point for data for portal members.
Website vs. Web Portal: Which Does My Organization Need?
After gaining a thorough understanding of the similarities and differences between websites and web portals, it is time to consider which option is best for the business. Many companies can benefit from having both a website and a web portal. However, there may be circumstances in which one option is better than the other.
A website is recommended for a business if it:
- Is creating a public website that delivers informational or educational content
- Is creating a public website that showcases products or services
- Needs to draw traffic from an audience of anonymous users
- Needs a website that runs separately from its internal sites and systems
- Does not need to contain sensitive or personal customer or employee information
A web portal is recommended for a business if it:
- Is creating a web platform for a particular group of people
- Needs advanced control over what content users can see
- Needs advanced permission features and user management
- Has multiple systems that need to be integrated
- Has sensitive or private information that needs to remain secure
The answer to whether a website or web portal is the better option for a business is based on the unique needs of the company and the tasks which they are trying to solve online. Websites are a highly favorable option for businesses that are trying only to attract new customers and improve their sales. Websites can help enhance brand loyalty and retain existing clients. Web portals are better suited for businesses that need a secure platform to share information or collaborate with a particular group of people, such as employees, customers, vendors or suppliers.
Speak With A Custom Software Development Company
When building an online presence, it is important for businesses to fully understand the differences between a website and web portal. Both options can provide modern companies with extensive benefits that boost security, streamline operations, enhance communications and improve the customer service experience.
Serving Maryland and the surrounding area, Orases is an experienced custom software development company that specializes in website and web portal development. To learn more about the differences between a website and web portal or to speak with a qualified custom software development expert, reach out to the team at Orases today by calling 301.756.5527 or by requesting a consultation online.