The Portal Company
The Portal Company

Web Portals: Frequently Asked Questions

Here, we’ve gathered the most common questions to help you understand the basics, benefits, and setup of self-service web portals.

Find all the answers below to help your organisation effectively harness the power of Microsoft web portals.

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+How Does a Self-Service Portal Work?

A web portal integrated with Microsoft Dynamics 365 offers engagement through examples that include:

  • User Access: Secure login and connected Dynamics 365 data, ensuring personalised experiences.
  • Navigation: Personalised dashboards with CRM data provide insights.
  • Resources: FAQs and guides tailored using centralised knowledge resources help users self-resolve issues.
  • Account Management: Users update their profiles, syncing changes with CRM for accuracy.
  • Services: Forms and support tickets feed directly into Dynamics 365, triggering automated case workflows.

A self-service portal enables autonomous user support and information access while reducing administrative tasks.

+ What are the advantages of using a Microsoft web portal?

Microsoft-powered portals stand out for their efficiency, security, and ability to cultivate vibrant user communities:

  • Integrated and Secure: Seamless connectivity with Dataverse and Dynamics 365, prioritising data security.
  • Versatile Templates: Power Pages low code templates cover popular scenarios, such as customer self-service, registration processes, and partner management, minimising setup work.
  • Accessibility Anytime: Ensures 24/7 access, empowering users to manage their accounts independently and lowering service costs.
  • Intelligent Assistance: Includes the capability to quickly deploy intelligent bots using Copilot Studio to improve the overall user experience.

These elements combine to make Microsoft portals a comprehensive solution for secure, accessible, and stakeholder-driven engagement.

+ What types of web portals exist?

The Portal Company designs websites that cater to different audiences and needs. For example, we implement:

  • Customer Portals: Access to personal accounts and support.
  • Content Distribution Portals: Enabling subscribers to access reports and research.
  • Community Portals: Modernising service requests, applications, and registrations.
  • Supplier Portals: Featuring options for onboarding and invoice submission.
  • Employee Portals: Central hub for internal guides, IT help and booking resources.

These portals offer tailored interactions ranging from transactions to collaboration.

+ How can The Portal Company help?

We are a Microsoft-certified cloud partner with extensive experience implementing client-facing portals driven by data and business processes integrated with Microsoft Dynamics 365.

Our website projects have included solutions for diverse organisations, including HSS Hire, Mitie, Cycling UK Capita, TechUK, Police Now, Tellimer, Pool Re and Healthcare RM.

We use agile software development principles to implement Microsoft-powered portals and accelerate deployment timelines.

+ How long does it take to implement a portal?

This will depend upon the complexity of your requirements. The timelines for our web portal projects typically range from 1 to 3 months.

Typically, our team can start a project within 2-3 weeks following approval.

+ What is a web portal vs. a website?

A web portal differs from a traditional website because it provides a personalised, data-driven experience, often requiring user login to access tailored content.

A key feature of web portals is their integration with Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems, including Dynamics 365. This allows for seamless connectivity between user data and business processes. Integration enables real-time data exchange and automation, enhancing user engagement and operational efficiency.

An organisational website, by contrast, typically offers static, universal content to inform a broad audience without the deep integration seen in portals.

+ What are the differences between Power Pages and a custom Azure web portal?

When deciding between Microsoft Power Pages and a custom Azure portal, consider your project’s complexity and specific needs:

  • Power Pages is ideal for quickly and efficiently setting up a website. It provides ready-made, low code solutions for straightforward requirements.
  • Custom Azure Portals: We recommend these if you have intricate portal requirements. A custom portal built on Azure offers extensive control and the ability to tailor every detail. This may be essential for some projects where the low code functionality of Power Pages may prove restrictive.

While a custom Azure web portal offers more flexibility, it also requires more resources. As a result, these projects involve higher upfront development costs and support compared to Power Pages.

The Portal Company designs portals using both options, and we always consider individual client requirements when proposing a solution.

+ What is the role of a knowledge base in a web portal?

A knowledge base in a portal serves as a comprehensive information repository, allowing users to resolve queries independently and deflect potential service requests.

Increasingly, portals can incorporate AI-driven tools like Copilot to enhance these resources. Copilot Studio utilises an organisation’s trusted resources to train bots, enabling these virtual assistants to engage in conversational chats. This integration helps external users swiftly find answers and navigate the portal efficiently, enhancing the user experience and reducing dependency on direct human support.

+ Can web portals connect to data that is not stored in Microsoft?

Yes. It is very common to surface data from outside the Microsoft Power Platform. An example is when a website integrates and displays information from an accounting system, such as invoices and orders.

The flexibility of Microsoft’s technology enables us to connect data from various sources and providers to enrich portal experiences and automate processes. Learn more about our portal integrations.

+ Can I receive electronic payments with the web portal?

Payment providers, including PayPal, Stripe and Worldpay, have web portal APIs for card payments. This enables us to hook these transactions into a web portal that provides seamless processing and integration with Dynamics 365.

+ Do you provide ongoing portal support?

The Portal Company will support your website via our dedicated UK support desk. We would be happy to discuss how we can provide ongoing help and consultancy to support your future portal requirements.

+ How can I optimise my portal for mobile users?

Our portals are fully responsive to work across all major web browsers and devices. We engineer and test our web solutions to ensure compliance with modern accessibility standards.

+ Can I brand my portal easily?

Your portal branding can be changed without needing code, as your website will be a complete content management system.

We will work with you to ensure your self-service portal is personalised and fully aligned with your brand.

+ What authentication methods are available?

We can configure your self-service portal to support various authentication options. Azure B2C (Active Directory) is a standard authentication provider, but Active Directory Federation Services (ADFS) and Microsoft Entra are also supported.

Supported non-Microsoft authentication providers include Google, LinkedIn and Facebook.

+ What client portal examples can you share?

The Portal Company considers our client’s security of the utmost importance. We are committed to modern security standards and regulations; therefore, our client’s web portals are not accessible to the public.

However, we do have limited access to examples to showcase, which are fully implemented using Microsoft portal technology:

Any other questions?

If you have a question we haven’t covered or you want to discuss your portal requirements, please don’t hesitate to contact us.