What are we really looking for in a project dashboard or home page?
- Overall project status. This is the kind of thing that should take no more than 1 minute to communicate verbally (but of course displayed in writing/graphing/etc).
- Recent events and immediately upcoming events. Everyone working on the project should have the ability to see what just happened, and what's coming up real soon now. This kind of immediacy helps put people in context of the project. Thus, a person can quickly understand what he needs to do or react to right now.
- Table of contents. A project of any size will generate more data than can possibly be held on a dashboard or home page. However, that home page needs to point to the locations of the other data; it needs to be the place people go to find information about the project, even if the information is actually stored elsewhere. This can be one or more of: documents, wiki pages, bug lists, etc.
- Ease of update. Hand updating and maintaining things leads to (gasp!) human error. So things that auto update, or can be updated from scripts (say, for example, the list of current open bugs) are good.
My dream tool, and I don't think this exists, has a top level overview, and clicking on each item displays more detail. Sort of a Google Maps for a project.
What do you want? And what do you use?