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Constrast MSNBC with a typical intranet portal. Although contrived, the example below captures the similarities between these and general Internet portals. Like their counterparts, Intranet portals typically contain many navigation options condensed into a small space. They tend to include customizable news, access to stock quotes, and a search facility.
Intranets.com sample portal
Looking past the surface, however, a number of key differences between intranet and Internet (Web) portals also emerge.
Focus. Intranet portals offer news, event calendars, and email just as Web portals do, yet intranet content tends to be restricted to the information most relevant to the organization. Ostensibly this allows employees to better focus on their job responsibilities by (hopefully) finding information more quickly, and it might also reduce the site's support burden.
Security. On the sample intranet portal (above) you can find several references to "groups": Group Members, Group Documents, Group Links, and so on. These correspond to functional groups within the organization. Access to certain intranet documents, for example, may be restricted to certain individuals or project teams with a "need to know." This concept is essentially foreign to Web portals where individual visitors tend not to collaborate with each other and Web portal administrators want all content accessible to everyone. Incidentally, it is a non-trivial implementation burden for intranet portals to support groups and group administration (adding and removing groups and members, maintaining access rights, auditing, and so on).
Authoring. Web portals tend to be produced by third parties. In intranets, on the other hand, the user community usually generates a substantial portion of their own content. The Group Documents area of the sample portal illustrates just one way that intranet content can be published.
Eye candy. There is an element of salesmanship in Web portals that exists to a much lesser degree on the intranet. Eye-catching true color clickable graphics with rollover effects such as that on the MSNBC start page don't contribute much to the bottom line of an intranet portal.