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?
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?”
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.
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.
Go with dashboard or something specific. It's clear, simple, and meaningful.
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.
A little late to the party (2016)...
Is there any reason to not just call it what it is - an "Overview" or "Summary"?
Also, I realize that you were trying to name a specific page. I happened upon this question because I'm trying to find a name the whole system. Suggestions have been "portal", "customer login area", and a bunch of shrugs. :) I think we're going to follow the lead of Microsoft, Google, et. al. and just call it an "Account". ("First, log in to your Account, then...")
Portal reflects the structure of the content (like for example "Blog"), which might not be enough information for users to make a decision on how to use the showcased content.
Directness might work quite well. Have you thought about calling it "Dataset Summaries"? Just an example, but the idea is to name it exactly what it is so users don't have to figure it out.
I would simply go with Dashboard, Account Area, or User's Summary; words that more clearly explain what they are going to find there.
'Portal' sounds more technical to a normal layman and they might end up thinking that they will end up somewhere with lots of tools and widgets.