November 20, 2017
Five Differences Between a Digital Experience & Legacy Portal

Do you want a legacy portal or a digital experience portal? Some may think that there is an obvious answer to this question (fter all, who doesn't want a good digital experience?). Others might question what the real difference is between the two. We're here to tell you that there are huge differences between a digital experience portal and a legacy portal. In this blog, we'll go through our top five. 

A Brand-forward User Experience

With a legacy portal, your UX options are pretty limited. You work with a limited set of templates that allow you to create basic templates and adjust colors and fonts. But for the most part, every customer that buys a legacy portal is destined to have the same standard experience.

Not so with a digital experience portal. The key concept here is designing a digital experience that meets the needs of your specific use cases. You have complete control over how your brand is viewed. Not just colors and fonts, but layouts and messaging. It's your portal - you decide how you want it to look and work.

Content and Data Driven

Legacy portals are often little more than a glorified set of links to other applications. If you're lucky, you'll have single sign-on, but if you're looking for a portal experience with some actual "experience," you're out of luck.

On the other hand, a digital experience portal combines the best of both a CMS and a portal to provide content and data-driven experiences within the portal. With a DXP you have content management capabilities, along with a visual web page builder to create portal pages that provide actual content.

This content can be created and managed within the portal, or it can be content that is pulled from an integrated application, like a knowledge base, or a CRM.

Multi-level Application Integration 

Legacy portals integrate with other applications, that's their purpose. That integration is typically in the form of links to those other applications. Essentially, a legacy portal is a gateway; one place you can go to get access to the different applications you work with.

But what if you want to surface some information from a third-party application inside the portal? Then you will need a digital experience portal. DXPs offer multiple levels of integration depending on your requirements. In some cases, it could be a simple link to another application, and it could be linked via single-sign-on or not. In other cases, you might want to provide some part of the application inside the portal directly via a widget. The application is still separate from the portal, but it's open within the widget in the portal environment.

The deepest integration though is embedding the third-party application within the portal experience. The user doesn't realize they are working with another system; the interface is seamless. Examples here include a ticketing system for customer support, learning management for students or employees, time reporting and vacation request systems.

Digital experience portals leverage new technologies such as web services and open APIs to enable different levels of integration. Legacy portals, built using legacy technology such as JSR168 and portlets standards, or web parts (for SharePoint), can provide the deeper level of integration.  

Collaboration Oriented

A digital experience portal expands beyond the self-service model of legacy portals. It’s not just about providing easy access to other systems and information, it's about providing a place where people can collaborate and communicate.

There are a few ways DXPs provide collaboration. It might be a collaboration workspace where departments, teams or groups can set up document repositories, shared calendars, activity feeds and social sharing. It could be a community area with blogs and forums, activity feeds and notifications. And it could be as simple as providing interactive areas of the portal where a person can be kept up to date or perform specific actions without going into a particular application. For example, a list of events where they can register to attend an event, a course list with outstanding assignments, a list of community groups and their updates and so on.

Search-based Content Discovery 

A very nice feature of a DXP is the ability to search across all integrated applications for content and have those results returned using the security and permissions of the applications. Search-based content discovery enables users to find information regardless of what application it resides in quickly. Faceted and guided search both make the search experience that much easier to filter down to the exact information and clicking a search result takes the user to the location where the information is located.

Legacy portals do not offer this type of content discovery because they don't provide the federated search feature required to connect to and search third-party applications.

Posted by David Hillis
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