Web portals give companies the ability to personalize access to applications and data. They are increasingly important as more customers expect experiences tailored to their unique needs. In this post, we’ll explain how web portals in java help you integrate digital experiences across different touchpoints to give your customers both personalization and consistency.
Understanding Web Portals
A web portal is an online platform that combines information from different sources into a single interface for users to access. Through the interface, individuals can log in to the company’s backend cloud repository to access data and services. Depending on the type of portal, these users could be external or internal parties.
Extranet portals provide a gateway for customers and business partners to access information and applications. Intranet portals provide a gateway for employees to access internal systems. Portals have various use cases, but are particularly popular in the following industries:
Beyond providing a single access point, the main goal for each type of portal is to provide users a personally contextualized experience. Customers in various markets need access to sensitive information that can’t be delivered securely through a website. They also need features that let them engage on their own terms; for example, someone modifying their insurance policy through a provider’s portal.
Workplaces need a backend environment that compiles employee resources into a single place. Workers usually need to access multiple applications to perform their jobs. Without a consolidated web portal, they are forced to hop between different systems. This is not only frustrating for the employee, but it is also inefficient for the business.
To set up secure web portals, companies create individual user profiles with role-based access, typically using a single sign-on (SSO). They can then set permissions for each account that determines what data and applications the user can access.
The individual components in a portal are built with portlets. Before the standardized portlet API, they had to be custom developed for each portal server.
Today, web portals have evolved to become more optimized platforms for creating digital experiences. With a java based DXP, organizations can create connected digital experiences across any touchpoint.
Why Use a Web Portal?
Portals give companies many features not available through traditional websites. Below are some of the greatest benefits of using a web portal.
- Integration: Companies can integrate all data sources into a single system. Doing so can improve back-office administration and remove burdensome silos.
- Personalization: Web portals allow companies to personalize the experience for different users to give them the content and features they need while excluding those that are not relevant.
- Customer self-service: Web portals let companies give customers access to their personally identifiable information (PII) in a secure manner. This improves the experience for the customer while reducing the burden placed on your customer service operations.
- Better access control: With a web portal, companies have direct control over who can access data stores and other parts of their internal systems.
- Consistency: Portals unite backend data across platforms to provide a consistent experience regardless of the user’s device. Customers and employees alike can benefit from having access to all their features while still enjoying the same look and feel.
Building a Portal Using Java
Building a server-side web portal that feeds into the client-side interface requires thoughtful planning. The first step is to understand the requirements for users and then design the information architecture accordingly. Your portal’s information architecture contains the user interface, content, metadata, available portlets, and a taxonomy system. It is the foundation of the technical architecture for the portal. Portals tend to share a similar structure to make them compatible with the portlet API.
Portals run inside a servlet container that can execute Java servlets and render web pages such as Apache Tomcat or IBM Websphere. They are responsible for the layout of the portlets, the execution of the portlets in portal containers, and admin functionality. The servlet environment can serve various web resources including JavaServer Pages (JSP files).
The portlet container manages portlets through their lifecycle. They provide a runtime environment for portlets based on the standard portlet API. With the container, you have the ability to initiate, use, and destroy the portlets. Unlike the servlet container, the Java portlet container is not a standalone runtime environment. Rather, it runs as a layer on top of the Java servlet container, reusing its functionality to create an interface between the portlets and portal.
Java Controls in a Portal
Java controls are visual components that handle the details for connecting data, systems, web applications, and business logic within your portal. They are divided into three categories:
- Custom Java controls: these include controls you create yourself as well as those provided by the WebLogic Portal.
- System controls: WebLogic provides these controls to give users easier access to Java web application resources.
- Portal framework controls: these controls let you adjust the user interface. They include portlets, pages, books, and desktops.
Custom Java controls within the WebLogic Portal have a defined runtime interface and configurable properties. These are used to render portal HTML. With the custom controls, you can dynamically adjust portal runtime behavior based on any information you want.
Jahia’s Web Portal Solutions
Jahia’s web portal solutions create unique access points, allowing you to combine content, data, and integrations. The platform is easy to use and gives you complete control over your web portal. With a modular design, you can build out custom functionalities to suit your specific needs, all while cutting costs and accelerating business operations.
Check out our video tutorial to see how you can use our open-source portal solutions to create engaging and personalized digital experiences at scale.