A dashboard in a car or airplane makes sense. It’s not as if I could click “speedometer” while driving or press the “altimeter” button while flying. I simply need everything at all times. But virtual interfaces don’t have that same limitation. In fact they don’t have any limitations. A dashboard can have as much information as the most ambitious engineer can dream — and that’s exactly the problem.
Put it in context: Google recently announced the retirement of iGoogle, it’s own personalized dashboard, and I second their nomination to induct dashboards into the #doingitwrong hall of fame, joining the likes of internet portals, splash pages, and well, basically anything involving ActiveX or Flash.
Dashboard were a fun user interface experiment. They really were, especially compared to the static pages they evolved from. That was the whole point of Web 2.0, wasn’t it? Personalization? I mean, it was really cool to drag and drop widgets, and build a virtual command center to monitor my little corner of the internet, and that was fine when there wasn’t much internet out there to monitor. But the web collectively hit a tipping point a few years back. From push notifications to always-on e-mail, in more ways than we imagine, we now bombard ourselves with more information that we can physically process at any given moment. Quite literally.