The wiki, a free web encyclopedia descibes a portal as
"a web site that provides a starting point, a gateway, or portal, to
other resources on the Internet or Intranet. The building blocks of
portals are portlets. Portals typically provide personalization
capabilities to their users. The Open Directory Project requires that
sites listed as a "portal" contain these features:
-Sports and Weather
'Mega' Web Portals provide a broad range of features, services,
content and commercial partnerships. Examples include:
http://yahoo.com, http://my.netscape.com, and http://my.oracle.com.
'Vertical', or 'Niche', Web Portals focus on a specialized audience
and/or topic, and provide features like search engines, discussions,
and directories. Examples include:
In the late 1990s, the web portal was a hot commodity. After the rapid
diffusion of web browsers in the mid 1990s, many companies tried to
build or acquire a portal, in order to have a piece of Internet
market. Web portal gained a special attention because it was, for many
users, the starting point of their web browser. Netscape Netcenter
became a part of America Online, the Walt Disney Company launched
Go.com, and Excite became a part of AT&T during the late 1990s. Lycos
was said to be a good target for other media companies such as CBS."
( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Web_portal )
So as we can see portals are webpages that try to be (and good ones
really are) a guide to other webpages. But often they do noit keep
Defined in other words:
1) Portal is a term, generally synonymous with gateway, for a World
Wide Web site that is or proposes to be a major starting site for
users when they get connected to the Web or that users tend to visit
as an anchor site. There are general portals and specialized or niche
portals. Some major general portals include Yahoo, Excite, Netscape,
Lycos, CNET, Microsoft Network, and America Online's AOL.com. Examples
of niche portals include Garden.com (for gardeners), Fool.com (for
investors), and SearchNetworking.com (for network administrators).
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 text-intensive, faster loading page that visitors
will find easy to use and to return to. Companies with portal sites
have attracted much stock market investor interest because portals are
viewed as able to command large audiences and numbers of advertising
Typical services offered by portal sites include a directory of Web
sites, a facility to search for other sites, news, weather
information, e-mail, stock quotes, phone and map information, and
sometimes a community forum. Excite is among the first portals to
offer users the ability to create a site that is personalized for
The term portal space is used to mean the total number of major sites
competing to be one of the portals."
( http://whatis.techtarget.com/definition/0,,sid9_gci212810,00.html )
Third (and last) definition try of a portal:
"a Web site or service that offers a broad array of resources and
services, such as e-mail, forums, search engines, and on-line shopping
malls. The first Web portals were online services, such as AOL, that
provided access to the Web, but by now most of the traditional search
engines have transformed themselves into Web portals to attract and
keep a larger audience."
( http://www.webopedia.com/TERM/W/Web_portal.html )
In my opinion there are some portals (but not as many as one could
expect) that keep the promise of beeing a kind of gateway to the
Today powerful full text search engines are frequently used and the
role of portal pages is of minor importance.
Some years ago almost 60-65 % of all lnks to commercial pages came via
yahoo.com, in the last years thereīs been a significant change and
search engines like www.google.com took over the market in a storm.
Usual websites focus on single items, commercial or private content.
Sure they very often contain links to other pages, thatīs what makes
the web alive, but they never try to be a gateway like portal pages.
I hope this help to solve your problem. If anything should still be
unclear please post a clarification request before you rate my answer.