Web solutions have become very common among various businesses. One can hardly find a company that won’t benefit from having a web portal. This type of software allows organizations to automate numerous processes and significantly increase employee, customer, and partner engagement with the business. But how much money does a company need to develop a handy web portal that will satisfy its specific needs? And what factors will influence the price?
In this article, we’ll try to answer all these questions as well as provide you with some basic info about web portals, their types, and functionality. And, what’s perhaps more important, we will explain what differentiates web portals from websites, because people still keep thinking that these are just two different names for the same thing.
What is web portal development?
To begin with, let’s give a definition to a web portal. Basically a web portal is a single access point to various kinds of information provided by a company. That information can be categorized and accessed by certain links. For example, a web portal will let you access company articles, information related to products, or even vendors or suppliers lists.
However, to take a look at that information you need to perform one crucial step – create an account or log-in using your email and password. Web portal users can access various information provided by web portal owners. That information can be pulled from various sources and located conveniently in one place, that makes web portals very convenient and user-friendly. Apart from accessing information, you can also communicate with other web portal users.
Key differences between Web Portal and Website
When it comes to custom development of web solutions, many confuse a web portal vs website because they have some common features. In particular, both are the internet solutions accessible via a unique web address (i.e. URL). Yet, these web products serve different purposes, have their distinctive characteristics, and are not interchangeable.
Therefore we have prepared a comparison table for you to understand what defines each of those web solutions. Let’s take a closer look at it to clear everything up.
To sum up, a website is a platform that helps a business digitally present itself to the world and convey messages to everyone who might be interested in its products or services. It doesn’t involve active participation from the users, but rather, it aims to highlight brand uniqueness and raise awareness of it.
As to the web portals, they have a narrower focus as their main goal is to provide particular people with specific information. Their content changes based on users’ input. While websites can offer static and dynamic content, web portals work only with the dynamic one and always require authorization from the users side. Now that you know all the key differences between web portal and website, it is high time to examine the first one in detail.
Common types of business web portals
As we’ve already mentioned, web portals help businesses create a personalized experience, share documents, and streamline communication & processes. Since it’s something every company needs to operate effectively, web portals may be used in numerous different ways. In general, there are two main types of web portals:
And now let’s speak about more specific web portals that are oriented and geared towards specific purposes and have different target audience.
By developing a customer portal, an organization can not only take its customer support and sales process to the next level but it also gets a chance to improve brand loyalty. Users of such a portal have an opportunity to place and track orders themselves, report problems, activate or deactivate services, get personalized recommendations, review the purchase history, and do many other things without the need to contact the company’s customer service reps. This saves their time, increases satisfaction, and helps to build long-term relationships.
B2C customer portal
If you are selling goods or services, then a B2C customer portal is a must-have tool for you. Not only does it help drive sales by offering better customer service, but it also helps companies establish long-lasting and loyal relationships that turn into partnerships with their customers. There are several features that should definitely be present in your B2C portal: account creation and editing, intuitive and yet advanced order placement, tools for checking and managing the orders, several payment methods so that every customer can conveniently and successfully complete the purchase, personal recommendations of goods or services, reporting tools.
B2B customer portal
These days companies that offer the same goods or services are finding themselves to be fighting for customers. That is why it is so crucial to have a competitive advantage like a B2B customer portal. This product can help companies to offer well-organized customer self-service (meaning that personal touch and automation will be balanced), perform better post-order management, offer information to customers 24/7 and create a personalized approach to each customer, offer flexible and convenient payment options, implement advanced order management tools.
Building an employee portal should be one of the first steps for companies going through digital transformation. It’s like an internal social network where users can communicate, assign tasks, update each other on important events, leave comments, log timesheets, request vacations, etc. On top of that, employee portals make it easier for new hires to overcome onboarding chaos and help them become a part of the team more seamlessly. As a result, people collaborate more effectively and stay more engaged.
Companies do not exist in isolation, they need to cooperate with many other businesses on a regular basis. This especially applies to such areas as real estate, travel industry, banking, healthcare, and logistics. To conduct their activity successfully, organizations from these business niches need to ensure an ongoing process of information exchange, two-way communication, and constant involvement of all parties engaged. A partner portal is a great tool to make interactions with other businesses reliable, effective, and results-oriented.
This type of portal is perfect for companies that can use a powerful platform for communication and data exchange with many vendors. Vendor management is crucial but time-consuming, so vendor portals are created to encourage self-service, reduce employee overload, and even save some costs. Vendor portals also make department cooperation easier and more effective, since your employees can collect all vendor information in one place and use it when needed.
Membership management portal
This type of web portal will be helpful for any business that offers membership subscriptions, for example, learning platforms. Besides obvious benefits like self-service, such portals allow for greater accuracy of members’ data at any given point in time since users can update it whenever some of their personal information changes. In addition, the management of the customer base becomes almost entirely automated. Members receive all materials, build training or any other plans for using a service, monitor the progress, payments, etc. with little to no manual administration efforts from your side.
Web portals that are gaining popularity in 2021
Last year the pandemic brought about so many changes and challenges. So many business industries had to rethink their strategies, approaches, and even digital tools used on a daily basis.
In a world where society was significantly constrained by virus outbreaks and people for various reasons found themselves stuck in their homes limited and changed a lot of people’s daily lives: working, studying, training from home was widely popularized.
But it is hard to stay productive without reliable solutions. Therefore the need for developing new web portals is a no-brainer. We have analyzed the market and searched for new web portals that appeared. In the end we discovered that there are 3 key types of web portals that are in demand now. Let’s take a closer look at them.
Key benefits of web portal development
It doesn’t really matter for what business industry you are building a web portal, since after all they all have the same key benefits that you should know of. Here they are:
- Your users will have easy and secure access to all crucial information 24/7.
- You will achieve better visibility related to services that your company offers.
- Your users will be able to perform effective self-service and learning.
- The user experience and customer journey will be way better.
- The communication between the involved parties will be improved and streamlined.
- You will share all crucial information easily and only authorized users will be able to access it.
- Your enterprise will be more scalable.
- The data you share with web portal users will be protected by special tools.
- You will ease the strain on your employees and make learning easier for them.
How to build a web portal
Let’s say you’ve made the decision to build your own web portal for your business. First thing you should know about the development process is that it is going to be quite difficult, rather time-consuming and costly. People who are not related to the technical sphere often think that the development consists of 2 main steps – web portal building and creation of its design. But in fact it is way more complicated than that.
The development consists of numerous stages and steps, and each one of them is crucial and indispensable. So we have prepared information that will help you understand the web portal development lifecycle better. And, without further ado, let’s proceed to checking all steps right away!
Some people from the business sphere neglect this step because they prefer not to waste their time on collecting the data. They are eager to proceed to writing specifications and starting the development as soon as possible. But this is a huge mistake that can lead to budget holes and unforeseen risks. The discovery phase is crucial for every project and especially for such complicated ones as web portals.
Preparations should include the following steps:
- Discovery of your target audience. Who is going to use your web portal? The answer to this question will help you identify the kind of portal you need. This will also help you identify the major feature set.
- Investigating what the competition does. It is likely that you have competitors who are using their own web portals. So your goal is to discover their strengths, weaknesses, approach to business, explore what peculiarities their portals have. This information will help you create your own strong suits in your solution and end up having a unique competitive product.
- Defining key tasks and end goals. Your company has existed without a web portal for some time. However, now you feel that you need this solution. So what is crucial to understand and discover is what expectations you put in it and how it should optimize your business. What tasks would you like to perform using a web portal and what results should its usage bring?
After the discovery stage is over you will get a thorough report from a Business Analyst and a draft of initial project specifications. You will also be aware of the technology stack that is going to be used for your projects, the risks that can possibly appear, the development time and approximate project cost. With all that information in hand, you can begin planning the development of your web portal. In this stage, it is crucial to divide big tasks into smaller ones, set deadlines, identify the scope of works for each stage, and build more or less accurate schedules of works.
You also need to start working on coming up with more detailed requirements. Your specifications will become more broad as such details as design, content, authentication type and other tech requirements will be taken into consideration and added.
The architecture of the web portal comes before the design and once it is ready, your team can proceed with creating a look for your solution. Speaking about architecture, it can be created in a form of sitemap describing the hierarchy of all pages that are going to be in your web portal. It is also crucial to define the connections between those pages and then think about their look.
When making your web portal visually appealing you should always keep your target audience in mind (and the type of web portal you are looking to create should also be taken into account). The selection of colors, icons and other elements will depend on it. For example, the partner portal should be more strict, without bright colors and hideous elements, keeping it simple, professional and organized. While the portal for employees can be less rigid in style.
Once you and your designer reach the compromise, it is time to start prototyping. As a result, you will be able to take a glance at a preview of how your future web portal will look like and make the necessary alterations and modifications if needed. Do not be mistaken, the design is no less important than the functionality of your web portal.
So it is recommended to pay special attention to the user-friendliness of being able to navigate through your web portal, correct calls to action and their location on the webpage, ensure consistency of font usage throughout all pages, the header and footer style, and section that provides a high-level overview of what your company is really about.
To begin the development stage you need a prototype and site map of your web portal. With these things in hand, your developers team can then start coding and turning your idea into a real-life solution. The main goal of this stage is to get a product that looks, functions and feels exactly as you wanted and envisioned it to.
The first thing that is going to be developed is the home page of your web portal. Then the team will proceed to creating all of the other necessary and all-important sections, buttons and other elements to your portal.
Here at GBKSOFT, we have developed several successful web portals for our clients’ businesses. So speaking about the development part, we’d like to name some technologies that are going to be used for your future web portal:
- Development from scratch will be performed using PHP;
- CMS-powered solutions can be built on WordPress or Salesforce.
As to the team that will enable you to turn your idea into reality, it should include the following specialists:
- Business Analyst;
- Software Architect;
- QA engineers;
- Scrum Master.
#5 Testing and Release
Testing is a crucial part of any project development since it helps to discover all errors, weaknesses and other bottlenecks of the solution and to fix them right away. So rest assured that your web portal will be thoroughly checked and tested before being released. Its performance, navigation, registration and creation of an account – all these and many other features will be tested. The goal of the testing is to make sure that everything functions fine and that the user experience is on the highest level.
It is also important to check the compatibility of your solution with different browsers. SEO and plugin installation (if you have a CMS-powered web portal) are also a must. Testers will check whether all plugins work correctly, and whether your web portal is attractive to search engines (SEO-optimized). Once everything is tested, works as it is supposed to and is in order – you can launch your solution.
Some business owners consider that once they get a perfect solution for their company, there is no need to invest in it further. After all, it works just fine and it can feel as though it can and will feel this way indefinitely or at least last for years into the future. However, the reality is that you need to constantly improve your web portal and perform functionality checks. For instance, some plugins may stop working correctly with time. Or they will no longer be compatible and cause some functional issues.
Also web portals should offer high levels of usability and engagement, that is why it is necessary to turbocharge it with high level functionality, and not pass up on opportunities to add something new and exciting. Based on our experience, we can say with confidence that maintenance is no less important than the development itself.
Web portal development services we offer
GBKSOFT team has vast experience in building various web portals for different purposes and target audiences. All our clients can benefit from 2 key types of services that we offer:
- Consulting – this service includes marketing research, market competition research, thorough planning, selection of feature set and tech stack, writing of technical documentation (software requirements and specifications) and prototyping of your web portal.
- Full cycle development – we will develop a web portal for a desired platform, integrate all required third-party services, help you with mastering a new solution, its launch and provide further improvements, continuous support. We can also develop a solution for mobile devices and assist with its submission to mobile app stores.
Our experience and approach to web portal development
To begin with, we’d like to mention a couple of great web portals we’ve worked on. One of them was for aircraft brokerage business and the second one – for the company that provides services for deaf or hearing impaired children (speaking of starting a company with a noble cause). Both companies had some productivity issues. Their employees were overloaded with tasks, the order and requests management was quite complicated.
Both businesses needed a digital optimization to boost productivity and client services function, and to improve communication and cooperation between their employees. So we’ve developed functional web portals powered by the best technologies that were available for carrying out those particular projects.
The solutions we’ve released work like a charm and we’ve only received positive feedback from business owners who entrusted us with the development of their web portals. To provide you with some real examples of web portal functionality, we’ve prepared a couple of screenshots of one of our projects.
As you can see from the example, the web portal has advanced functionality. Not only can a person register, manage an account and get information about necessary services and payments, but also it is possible to manage invoices, school years, children lists and much more.
There are a variety of options that can be collected in one solution to make the service offerings more transparent, organized and convenient. Every necessary detail is right at the users’ fingertips. A couple of mouse clicks and you get all of the information.
Now as to our approach to web portal development, we deliver not only high-quality products, but we also think of their integration into the working environment of our clients. So let’s say our client already uses CRM or ERP, we have to make sure that the web portal can be successfully connected to them and transfer or receive all crucial data.
We also pay special attention to APIs since they can make a web portal even more functional. Security and convenience of the end product is our priority. We always make sure that the web portal is easy to use, its functions are intuitive and useful and design corresponds not only to all of the latest trends but also to the needs and requirements of a company we work with.
The Cost of Building a Web Portal
If you decide to work with a coding team from Ukraine, the custom development of a web portal will on average cost you in the range of $30,000-$80,000. Of course, there is no ceiling to the cost and the final price may be much higher if, for example, you want to build a very complex solution with many user groups having different rights and permissions.
For your better understanding of the final price and the amount of time that can be spent on developing a web portal, we have prepared a table. This table is relevant for the MVP (Minimum Viable Product) of a web portal, so the price of a full solution can be higher as well as the total development time.
|Dev stages||Dev hours||Total cost|
|PHP Development 4||425||$11475|
|PHP Development 6||128||$5248|
Factors that influence the costs of web portal
Like with building any other bespoke software solution, there is no fixed price for web portal development. Many aspects may impact the budget that is required for a project. So let’s take a look at the most significant of them.
It’s up to you to decide what functionality to include in your web portal. But, naturally, the more complex you want it to be the more money you’ll need. Here are the most popular features of web portals:
- Document management
- Knowledge management
- Advanced search
- User profiles
- Collaboration tools
- Data feeds
- Self-service tools
- Task management
- Performance tracking
- Analytics & Stats
- Data aggregation
In addition, it’s important to ensure a system integration with third-party solutions as well as make a web portal powerful, maintainable, and scalable.
Outsourcing Company vs Freelancers
It’s another choice you’ll have to make at the very beginning. As a rule, freelancers charge less but there are a lot of risks associated with this type of cooperation model. For instance, independent programmers frequently fail to meet deadlines or can quit the project in the middle of the road. So a low price oftentimes ends up coming at a high cost. That’s why it’s better to entrust and delegate the development of your web portal to a reliable IT outsourcing partner.
Developers’ seniority levels
Senior engineers have higher hourly rates than do their junior colleagues, but the latter ones usually work more slowly/less effectively. Ideally, you would have a coding team composed of programmers of different levels of seniority. If you envisioned a complex and long-term project, hiring a dedicated team might be the best option.
Programmers’ geographic location
It’s not a secret that developers’ rates differ depending on the region of the world. Programmers from the US are believed to be the most expensive, charging about $100-200 per hour while engineers that are located in Asia may cost you just $15-40 an hour. However, developers from Asia have a reputation for delivering lower-quality products. So it’s better to choose Eastern European programmers who offer a supreme price/quality ratio with hourly rates ranging from $25 to $40.
To wrap it up
Today’s business world is driven by technologies, so developing a web portal is a must for any company that wants to stay competitive. In general, portals can be used in many areas of an organization, for instance, customer support, business partnerships, or internal collaboration.
The exact costs you’ll need for the project will depend on numerous factors such as the development method you will choose, product complexity, developers’ seniority levels, as well as their geographic location. Our recommendation is to choose a coding team from Ukraine to get superior quality for a reasonable price.