Building a Secure Online Portal
A DIY non technical Guide

Why Bother?

If you are a professional office, such as an accountant, solicitor, estate agent, travel agent or bookkeeper, there are very good reasons to build secure online portals, especially in the business environment. So before I explain how it is achievable (in my Blue Peter guide style) I'll first of all list the many benefits and efficiences of acquiring an online secure portal.

Some practices or businesses currently use dropbox to share information, which is a great online cloud based secure portal. However dropbox is a push system if used in this way and if taken further and with added layers it can become a secure portal with self serve capabilities. (NB pCloud is a great alternative to dropbox by the way)

The benefits of Secure Online Portals

The list below is not exhaustive, but shows some of the benefits I have enjoyed from being able to build portals. 

Reduction in Emails

Emails are difficult to maintain and monitor efficiently and they tend to focus on a writer and receipient. We all get cc'd into emails but wouldn't it be better to choose what to look at and when rather than being given access to a conversation that might not have complete relevance to you?. And emailing can be an insecure method of communication, in particular if sensitive documents are involved. An online portal gives clients and colleagues access to their own area and information and administrators can control what they see and for how long. This enables a self service approach which does away with a large amount of emailing. As an example, think about payroll reports for clients. Rather than posting or emailing these, a client can log in through a website to their own portal and access their payroll reports as and when. So no more....can yoiu resend my reports from last january please, I can't find them.


Going further, clients and colleagues alike can colloborate using secure portals. A document can be worked upon and uploaded rather than emailed around and backed up. This makes the process slicker and more controlled.

GDPR Compliance

It is important to understand that GDPR effects how we hold data and transmit data. Emails need to be secured. Sensitive financial documents need to be password protected, each and every one that is emailed. It is so much more effiecient and perfectly compliant to have the said documents sit behind a secure portal with a single password for access. This is particularly useful for accounts practices and payroll service providers.

Practice Efficiencies & Security 

It is far easier to communicate with staff and customers via a portal whereby the onus can be placed on to the staff member or customer to check their communications area rather than by distributing communications that can either be missed or not considered. In addition, I have listed world leading software providers in this article and security is second to none on these systems. They would far outweigh the security of some purpose built system.

Practice/Business Branding and Marketing

A secure portal can sit behind a website where the user logs in. This is a fantastic marketing or communication tool. A staff landing page could be used to convey a message to staff (there is a fire drill on Wednesday) or a customer landing page could be used to cross sell (our widgets are on special offer this month). So an eye catching website sitting in front of the portal is a very useful feature of portals.


The cost of hosting a domain and paying for cloud storage is relatively inexpensive, when compared to in-house offerings. And certainly when considered with the benefits of efficiency and image, the cost is quite insignificant 

How To Build A Secure Online Portal

Get Down Shep


1 x Website Builder

1 x hosting service

1 x Cloud based file hosting service

1 x password potection and membership site plugin

The Website Builder

Recommended - Black Country Solutions

Others - Wix, Wordpress, Weebly

This will create your landing area (or it could be a complete website).

Ultimately, it will house a login area which will be used to access the file hosting system.

Hosting Service

Recommended - Amazon WS

Others - Google,  1&1

These allow you to serve your content to the internet. In other words you can host the website you've built on your own domain or one you purchase from them.

Cloud Based File Hosting

Recommended - Dropbox, pCloud
Others - Google Drive, OneDrive, Sync, Box

This will house the files and documents and will be the working area.

Each area can be categorised and shared for each participant, such as a customer would have their won folder and staff would have their own folders etc.

Password & Membership Plugin

Recommended - Authpro

Others - Sentry

There are several purpose built offerings that avoid the need to write complicated server code. These online solutions let you simply copy and paste customized code snippets to protect any of your web pages. Using them, you can effectively keep your pages private and what's more you can point your members to their own specific destination or page once logged in.



Build Site

Build your site using a simple website builder.
Copy your login form snippet (from authpro) into your login page on the site.


Upload to Host servers

Upload the site to your host server


Determine Dropbox folder links

This will involve determining where members or groups of members will land in dropbox. It will be to a dropbox folder and the link can be copied across to the membership platform


Configure membership platform

This will involve defining member logins and where you wish a member to land ie at the copied dropbox link address. 


Register Members

You will determine whether you will enable members to self register or whether you add them. If they are all going to different folders, then they will be added by the administrator. If they are all going to a default location, then self registration is viable


Set site to public

Once you are configured, the site can go public and only members can access private areas.

And that's it. You have your own secure client portal!

If you want to know more....

Drop me a line and I will be able to discuss how you can set up your very own portal and have total control over it in-house


Phone: +1 (0) 1902 283058


Black Country Solutions Ltd
The Workspace                    
All Saints Road, Wolverhampton