Planning for Your Portal Site

No matter what portal or web development tool you're using, you should always first spend some time on the specification of your portal. You should not even start looking at the technology before answering questions like:

  • How many users?
  • Is there already an existing authentication database for these users, do I want to use it?
  • How many languages?
  • How many media types do I want to support?
  • How many and which segments/target groups do I have to serve
  • What content do I want to publish?
  • How can I get access to this content (disk, db, syndication, etc...)?
  • Who is going to update the site content and with what editorial process?
  • What applications do I need to connect to?
  • Are they already using a single authentication db?
  • How do I bridge to these apps (servlet, http, SOAP, CORBA, etc...)?
  • For each user target group, what application/content do they need to access?
  • Can they personalize their portal view?
  • What access rights should they have?
  • What will be your portal navigation?
  • Do you plan to set up different thematic portal views or a single integrated workspace?

Once you have written down your answers on these points, you should have a much better view on:

  • What kind of software tools and features you'll need.
  • What kind of skills you'll require.
  • An estimate of the amount of work required to setup your portal.
  • What budget you'll need to complete your portal transition.
  • Where to start

Setting up and running a portal is typically a lot of work, mainly in terms of technical integration, process engineering and project management. Open source software does not magically cancel these, just ensure that your budget can be spent of these items rather than being split between software licenses and integration.

Jumping directly from a static website to a portal-driven system without any defined specification and expected benefits is a recipe for frustration, lost time, lost money and a very slow website...