Top five tips for building a web portal 2021

If there’s one thing to say about web portals it’s that if you are going to build one, you might as well do it right. Building a web portal is no small matter, these projects take up a lot of time, money and resources. It is essential you set your expectations for your portal before you start. To lend a helping hand, we’ve summarised 5 tips we would advise you to follow before you start and to consider if you wish to get the best possible outcome for your portal. After working with web portal development for 20 years, it’s safe to say we’ve learnt a thing or two about best practices…

To start off, you need to establish the goals for your portal. Will this portal be for content access, communications, a customer ordering system etc? Although it sounds obvious you need to break your needs and expectations down. A standard content portal will require a different project scope than an integrated communication system for example. You need to be certain about what it is you are after so the developers can estimate an accurate quote, timescale and idea of your portal.

So once you have got the “go ahead” to build your portal two things are going to happen, whether you like it or not. Firstly. Everyone’s expectations of the Portal’s functionality will increase. Secondly. All those people who didn’t want to be involved, now do want to be involved, and they’ll want to add their own functionality. So you need to make a decision. Do you accommodate this scope creep or go for quick wins. Being ambitious is not wrong and the results can be staggering. But, for most projects your best chance of success is a phased approach and looking for quick wins. Getting the basics right is really effective. And then you can build from there. We’ve worked with big corporate companies in the past that have focused on quick wins. To do this, you’d have to analyse what would lead to the best chance of success amongst customers or business, is it a good search or improved support etc? Perhaps doing some business competitive analysis here will help.

This is a big subject. Your goal should be to integrate as many of your systems as you can. But is not easy. It takes time and can be expensive, so it is important to establish whether this is for you to begin with. The results can transform your business, improving access to information and allowing multiple functionalities like image recognition. Your systems can become more innovative and you can even keep up with your competitors. Not only this, the cost savings can be jaw-dropping as it’ll reduce the need for multiple systems. But there are risks.

Do not underestimate the softer elements of a portal project.

The marketing and promotion of a portal are often forgotten but it is really important to the success of the project. And it is very common that portals get off to a slow start – the majority of the time it is simply down to bad planning. If you don’t have a plan for this, it’s not going to get the results you are after. You need an engagement plan. Whether it is using in-house champions to explain the system, offering incentives to use it, including the portal as part of an induction, explainer videos or even webinars. Every organization is different. Whatever route you take it needs to be part of the overall project plan. And determine if you want to add an app on top, this will contribute to the workload but can be great for usability.

And finally, how are you going to report its success? For some organisations, it will be possible to calculate a Return On Investment by measuring increases in revenue. But that does not take into account other elements such as increased customer satisfaction and better efficiency so that figure would be underestimated.

From the start you should look to develop a metric that includes hidden or soft benefits to show the positive impact the portal has on the organization and also so that you get the credit you deserve.

So, that is our 5 tips to consider when developing and building a portal. If you wish to hear more about what we recommend we host monthly webinars, ‘’How to make your portal work in the real world’’. Find out more here.

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