Designing a Successful Portal Deployment

There are two types of portals: those that consolidate services or applications into a single point of access, and those that are focused on building a community by providing communication tools. A true portal will be implemented but never finished as it continually adapts to meet users' changing needs. The following tips can increase the success of your portal project.
Focus Area Divider.

Define the portal's purpose

What is the vital business reason for the portal? What information or interaction are you trying to provide or enable? A successful portal implementation is clear about what network it wants to build and what message it wants to communicate.

Build communities

For community portals where individuals share stories and ideas, members should influence the direction of the site and give it a life of its own. This cannot be achieved prior to launch, and even after the launch of the portal the portal team must make careful decisions about how to grow this budding community.

Avoid stale content

A portal is only as good as its content. The practicality of this in an ongoing situation must be scrutinized. Consider human scalability, as well as how the task of content creation should be delegated, either as a formal or a viral activity. This is something that can be aided by portal technology, particularly delegated administration and interaction functionality.

Provide value for guest users

A community portal should provide value to users who do not wish to register, but the key is determining the right level of what you give away versus what you offer to registered users. This should be directly derived from what the purpose of the portal is. In addition, cookies and behavioral tracking can create implicit personalization for guest users.

Provide extra value for registered users

Businesses often put all their effort into using the portal to attract new users, but registered users should gain tangible value from the portal. Most important, they should gain items of real value to them, rather than implicit value to the business.

Make registration easy

Do not create additional hurdles by making registration hard to find, asking for too much detail, or not providing the ability to opt-out. Ensure that the information requested is proportionate to the value received.

Learn to sow the seeds

When it comes to building communities, the best thing you can do is get out of the way. Plant the initial seeds of discussion and encourage feedback until the initial conversation has transformed into something else of greater value.

Make it scale

The portal's growth and adoption should not be restricted by technology or business process. The process issues may manifest in many scenarios, from a resource shortage for publishing content to creating a single point of approval. If managed correctly, content management systems (CMS) or automatic inputs from RSS feeds and blogs will provide workarounds for such issues.

Let business owners administer their content

At its core, a portal is about presenting certain information to certain people based on certain criteria. Business-focused administration allows business owners to publish content, create rules, and target audiences on a real-time basis.

Put everything into the CMS

Portals often have large amounts of static content or assets that inevitably change, yet despite any version control system you may have, the best place to organize and control these assets to allow them to be effectively deployed is a CMS.

Turn the business inside out

A portal will allow internal business processes to be exposed outside the business using a self-service extranet. Remember that this may have deep implications for internal business processes that need to be incorporated and tested; they will probably expose any weaknesses in your processes that have been managed internally.