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You Need a Portal! But Website or Web App, Which is Right for You?

When choosing a portal, it's best top understand the difference between a website and a web app and know which is right for you. The lines between the two have become very blurred so in this post I'll provide some important clarity on the difference, and when to choose a website or a web app.

What is the difference...

Some will say that today, with the advent of powerful web development technologies, there is no real difference between a website and a web app. But in the world of portal technology, there's a big difference and it's important to understand the difference.

The web app is often called Web Tool. Why? Because like a hammer or a wrench, it's an application-specific tool. In other words, it's designed and built to accomplish a specific task. Typically, a good web app includes the following: a number of application-specific widgets from which the buyer can select and further configure the portal; an integrated analytics component with pre-configured dashboards; and a powerful administration panel which allows the buyer to manage and administer the portal without programming knowledge and without support from the portal vendor.

Which is right for you…

To better illustrate this, let’s use the example of a ChannelSAGE dealer portal. This is a powerful Web App designed by experts for the sole purpose of managing and supporting a dealer channel. As such, it comes with a full complement of widgets which include…

  • Sales funnel management

  • Lead management

  • New partner on boarding

  • Partner training & development

  • Marketing automation

  • Dealer communication

  • Incentive & recognition

  • Powerful analytics with pre-configured dashboards

  • Portal and SSO functionality

  • Full site administration.

  • For additional features and more information, please visit Portal Central at

To accomplish the above by building a website would be possible but extremely difficult, very time consuming and prohibitively expensive. Not to mention fraught with risk.

However, if you’re looking for a marketing portal, designed only to provide a highly branded dealer interface with limited functionality beyond simply welcoming your dealers to your site and providing them with a list of hyperlinks into other applications, then a website is your best, and most economical approach. We often call this a “Marketing Portal” and we offer several examples of this at the following link:

In summary, portals come in two forms:

  1. A website designed to be a welcoming portal with hyperlinks into third party applications you already have in place.

  2. A web application specifically designed to provide application specific functionality and includes analytics, numerous widgets, an administration console, and of course full portal capability including SSO and API’s.

By understanding the difference, and knowing what you’re attempting to accomplish, you can choose the approach that will best meet your needs.

ChannelSAGE can help you navigate these waters. For more information please visit

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