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.
    – Zelda
    Commented Dec 14, 2011 at 20:35
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    But seriously I've often wondered this myself. It sounds so unnatural; I recall finding it weird that newgrounds.com uses the term "portal" for everything.
    – Zelda
    Commented Dec 14, 2011 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. Commented Dec 14, 2011 at 20:47
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    FWIW, we use a "content dashboard" in our systems.
    – Taj Moore
    Commented Dec 14, 2011 at 20:53
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    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: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Web_portal
    – Zelda
    Commented Dec 14, 2011 at 21:15

5 Answers 5


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.


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.

  • thanks for giving some international context. this is great to know Commented Dec 15, 2011 at 4:08
  • same applies to Spain Commented Dec 15, 2011 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
    Commented Dec 16, 2011 at 11:33

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.

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