Organizations are becoming increasingly dependent on their intranet -- the internal web-based network they use to communicate and function. Many organizations are finding the content and functions available growing at a voracious rate.
In some cases, we're seeing the amount of content available growing at more than a gigabyte each month. How does the intranet designer ensure that employees can productively find the important content and functions, with minimum frustration, with a network growing that quickly? Many designers are turning to Portals -- a set of pages that act as a launch point for every dive into the intranet's ocean of content.
On most intranets we've studied, employees start their intranet session by bringing up the portal in their browser. From there, they drill into the institution's network until they find what they want.
Portals are unique to intranets. The Internet doesn't have portal pages.
We've found that some designers confused portals with a site's home page, but they actually function differently. Home pages guide users to content within a specific site, but because the intranet is actually a collection of sites, (such as human resources, sales, or individual project information,) they each have their own home pages.
The portal becomes the shell that directs employees to the right site. It does this by consolidating scent across the intranet. The design of the portal can make or break an intranet's success.