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The Ingredients for Spectacular External Web Portals

Marcelo Andrieu, Technical Product Marketing Manager
March 7, 2022

The front door to your organization. 

Connection is key. No matter what industry you are part of, you need—you want—to communicate and interact with your most important audiences: customers, partners, citizens, suppliers, and more. And you don’t necessarily want to ask loads of questions or require users to provide login credentials for every interaction. This could result in unhappy users who abandon the process and look to one of your competitors for what they need.

Web portals are a great way to facilitate smooth interactions: portals allow external or infrequent users to access the information they need, trigger workflows that are connected to your other systems and data, and self-serve, normally without authentication. 

Portals are used in every industry for a variety of use cases, such as: 

  • Financial services: Onboard customers, report issues, capture survey feedback, report on public financial data, receive mortgage forbearance requests.
  • Public sector: Apply for a grant, check tax refund status, report an incident, review public records.
  • Insurance: Request a quote, report an incident, confirm contact information. 
  • Healthcare: Onboard new patients, request an appointment, find a doctor, sign up for a vaccine appointment, verify contact information, report an incident.
  • Education: Schedule a university visit, find a degree program, check credit transfers, confirm contact information.
  • Utilities and telecommunications: Self-registration, report a service outage, check outage status, request service.
Beyond user experience.

Your external and internal stakeholders want to be impressed by every user experience, so portal projects often start with user experience in mind. But a great portal is more than just a pleasant experience. Portals also need to be: 

  1. Fast to create and update, and flexible to meet future needs.
  2. Secure to allow public access while keeping information and operations safe and compliant.
  3. Scalable and highly performant to support high or varying usage levels
  4. Integrated seamlessly with your existing systems, workflows, and data.

By nature, portals often solve urgent and critical problems—which make them the perfect fit for low-code. Low-code can deliver powerful, compelling digital experiences a lot faster than traditional development approaches. Even better, a unified low-code platform such as Appian makes external portals scalable, secure, easier to manage, and seamlessly connected to your existing workflows and other applications, with minimal coding required.

That’s why Appian created Appian Portals, a new offering that’s part of the Appian Low-Code Platform, available starting with Appian 22.1 in March 2022.


An Appian Portal for external users to report power outages

Accelerate development. 

Development teams don’t usually have months of notice before a portal needs to go live. For instance, think of how many portals have been spun up quickly due to the COVID-19 pandemic—not just in healthcare, but also in retail, transportation, government agencies, and more. Portals support everything from making appointments for a test or vaccination, to automating clearances to come back to the workplace or travel internationally. 

Appian Portals allows you to build and update external portals very fast. With low-code, you can design, publish, and manage them 10 times faster than using traditional web coding. 

From months to days: Rapid portal development to register event attendees.

LIUNA, the Laborers' International Union of North America, hosts a regular convention attracting over 1,400 delegates. The labor union needed a way to quickly build an external portal to reach these delegates without requiring them to create an account or log in. It also wanted a solution that enabled easy management to design, publish, and maintain its portal without hassle. 

LIUNA chose Appian Portals to meet its needs. With Appian, LIUNA was able to build a portal in two weeks with only one developer, saving nine months of development time. The new portal saved the company two months of manual data entry and validation work—or approximately 640 employee hours.

Secure every experience. 

Securing web portals is crucial but complex. Portals have to make it easy for external users to get what they need and take action, without compromising security or risking information getting into the hands of nefarious parties.  

The Appian Low-Code platform is built with security embedded at its core. This removes a lot of the security burden from developers, so they have time to build innovative functionality instead of hardening the code. Every portal built using Appian Portals inherits the security of the platform itself, so unified low-code portals are inherently more secure than if they were built with traditional web tools and languages. 

Appian Portals security includes SOC 2 compliance, CAPTCHA capabilities to control malicious bots, and microservices architecture to let information flow to and from all your systems without being tied to your core application, thereby avoiding risks of exposing data, workflows, and other sensitive information to outside parties. 

With Portals, you can deploy external facing applications like car insurance quote request site connected to your systems in days

Connect external users with internal systems.  

A portal that doesn’t connect to your existing systems or data is of limited value. Linking an external site to internal systems or data stores is complicated, to say the least. Security risks and performance issues skyrocket when you have to cobble together separate solutions. 

With unified low-code Appian Portals, you can build an end-to-end portal using the same platform you use for your workflows and applications. This allows you to connect external users securely to your workflows—without disruption, integration challenges, or the need for specialized development skills.


A personalized auto insurance portal built with Appian Portals


Scale to meet unpredictable demand. 

Traditional portal development approaches lead to applications that may crumble when demand fluctuates. You risk downtime, sluggish performance, and a poor user experience unless you preemptively provision computing resources and infrastructure to account for worst-case scenarios. Such scenarios can be prohibitively expensive.

Using low-code Appian Portals you don’t need to worry about meeting fluctuating demand. Architected for scalability, your portals can quickly adapt to increases or decreases in usage levels. And because Appian Portals uses a microservices architecture, your portals also scale independently without compromising performance or impacting your other applications. 

Appian Portals: A lot more than great user experiences.

Appian Portals brings the power of low-code to external-facing applications. You can quickly build and iterate on secure, impressive  experiences that improve your interactions with external stakeholders. 

With Appian Portals, you get: 

  • Digital experiences for everyone: Connect all your audiences directly into your organization’s workflows without authentication.
  • Security and stability: Leverage the security of the Appian Low-Code Platform, which includes encryption, SOC 2 compliance, and more.
  • Easy management: Easily publish and manage your secure, self-service portals using a unified low-code platform.
  • Fast development: Design workflows, integrate data, and deliver external portals using low-code in weeks, not months.
  • Seamless scalability: Scale independently of the Appian Low-Code Platform instance with the microservices architecture.

To learn more, try Appian for free now with Appian Community Edition.