Portal is a term, generally synonymous with gateway or door. In the context of the Internet, it is a website 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.
It is a specially designed website that brings information from diverse sources, like emails, online forums, and search engines, together in a uniform way. Usually, each information source gets its dedicated area on the page for displaying information (a portlet); often, the user can configure which ones to display. Variants of portals include mashups and intranet “dashboards” for executives and managers. The extent to which content is displayed in a “uniform way” may depend on the intended user and the intended purpose, as well as the diversity of the content. Very often design emphasis is on a certain “metaphor” for configuring and customizing the presentation of the content (e.g., a dashboard or map) and the chosen implementation framework or code libraries. In addition, the role of the user may determine which content can be added to the portal or deleted from the portal configuration.
Portals provide a way for enterprises and organizations to provide a consistent “look and feel” with access control and procedures for multiple applications and databases, which otherwise would have been different web entities at various URLs.