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I am building a site for managing datasets. The home page will be a portal displaying summary info about the user's datasets and other datasets in the system. I'm trying to decide what to call this page (user-facing name). Portal makes most sense to me, but dashboard is another term that is commonly used in this situation, and seems more intuitive. Are users familiar with 'portal'? Are there are other terms being used in this context?

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If it's good enough for GLaDOS it's good enough for me. – Ben Brocka Dec 14 '11 at 20:35
But seriously I've often wondered this myself. It sounds so unnatural; I recall finding it weird that uses the term "portal" for everything. – Ben Brocka Dec 14 '11 at 20:35
@BenBrocka I had to look that one up, and now i see that 'portal' can be a truly frightening term. that example is almost reason enough for me to avoid the term. the only problem is that dashboard connotes analytics but not content. the page i'm designing is more about content. there must be an alternative. – ted.strauss Dec 14 '11 at 20:47
FWIW, we use a "content dashboard" in our systems. – Taj Moore Dec 14 '11 at 20:53
Something about the term "web portal" just brings to mind the 90s, in part because of Newgrounds. Just the wording here makes me think of table layouts and frame-based web pages: – Ben Brocka Dec 14 '11 at 21:15
up vote 12 down vote accepted

I think you should avoid it.

Brent Simmons recently wrote about word choice, specifically the "Connect" and "Discover" tabs in the new Twitter for iOS app:

What we know about people and words

People respond best to concrete words, and English speakers respond best to non-Latinate words.

When asking your significant other to pick up some milk on the way home, you don’t ask, “Will you attend the purveyors and retrieve a dairy beverage?”

You ask, “Will you stop at the store and pick up some milk?”

Portal is a Latin word, but there is obviously some precedent for its use — there is even an entire Wikipedia article about it's use in web terminology.

However, it's still vague — it doesn't refer to a location or even something specific, like dashboard (a panel...containing instruments and controls). The word "portal" refers to a way to get there (where?). After all, how often do you talk about doors? Far less than you talk about rooms.

Simmons continues...

How many times have you been to a product website and seen big bold letters proclaiming that you can CONNECT and ENGAGE and DISCOVER? Every time I see that, I hit the back button, and I bet you do too.

It’s because it’s vague. It’s supposed to sound exciting, but it’s not. It doesn’t say anything about what you can really do with the app.

Nobody wants to connect or discover. People want to talk, send email, chat, share, post to Facebook, tweet, and so on.

(emphasis mine)

Go with dashboard or something specific. It's clear, simple, and meaningful.

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+1 for dashboard. – Stefan Kendall Dec 15 '11 at 14:24
thank you for this outstanding answer! – ted.strauss Dec 15 '11 at 17:34

The term was very popular during the end of 90s, specially in countries that have Latin languages (Brazil in my case). The word portal is also associate to a website with a generous mix of content.

I like @tajmo suggestion.

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thanks for giving some international context. this is great to know – ted.strauss Dec 15 '11 at 4:08
same applies to Spain – Naoise Golden Dec 15 '11 at 12:07
It's rather a dated term in my view. It went with a fashion for websites to be a 'one stop shop' for all one's information requirements. – PhillipW Dec 16 '11 at 11:33

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