The Navigation Builder is a solid new feature for Power BI Service that enables a customized app experience for viewers. Read about this feature and the entire app navigation redesign in more detail from Lukasz Pawlowski on the Power BI blog: https://powerbi.microsoft.com/en-us/blog/designing-custom-navigation-for-power-bi-apps-is-now-available/
Just Enough Customization
The new menu builder offers customization for navigating through Power BI content and conveniently offers external links. The ability to add sections for grouping items, optionally hide reports even when marked as “Include in App”, and reorder items is just enough functionality to keep things simple and powerful without overwhelming the majority of users.
The navigation experience setup above provides viewers with the final experience below.
Links Open Up Possibilities
In addition to offering Power BI content, the inclusion of Links open up a world of possibilities for designing a convenient experience for viewers. You’re not limited to Power BI content. If you want to embed a webpage within the content area of Power BI or open something in a new browser tab, you can do that.
A feedback form from Microsoft Forms is one thing that I was experimenting with. While the ability to add Comments to reports was recently added in Power BI, a feedback form would offer me a bit more structure. I could also use that data later (even in a Power BI report!). Having the option set to Only people in my organization can respond ensures that it’s not open to the public. By virtue of accessing it through Power BI, the authentication is taken care of as well, and the user would not need to log into the form separately.
By selecting the option to embed the feedback form in the Content area, instead of the Current tab, I’ve created an experience that appears seamless to viewers.
Other Microsoft products like Teams, SharePoint, and O365 are not available for directly embedding in the content area, but that wouldn’t stop you from opening a Teams channel, PowerPoint presentation, or some other content in a new browser tab. Simply use the New tab option when setting up the link.
If your organization is still in the midst of Power BI adoption, you could also link or try to embed transitional or legacy content within Power BI. With Links, Power BI can be a one-stop-shop to get to reporting content from other products like Tableau Online.
Be Careful with Color
One thing that I wish there were some additional options for is the App Theme Color on the Setup tab. While there are currently 22 colors to choose from, you cannot select a custom color that matches your own report theme directly. This leads to possible clashes with color on your reports, so you have to balance report theme colors with app theme colors well. I also wonder why this palette is in use instead of the default Power BI Desktop palette.
Some of the app theme colors are also very…vibrant (code for “I don’t like them”). This wouldn’t be so noticeable if the color were only part of the menu bar at the top as it was previously. With the new navigation experience though, the color selected as the app theme is the color of the entire navigation pane. It’s noticeable.
I can create a conservative experience with the selection of Theme Color 2 (not quite black) or Theme Color 3 (light grey). Outside of “boring” colors like that, I have to be careful that the report colors blend well with my app color or risk creating quite a visual experience for viewers. For example, I’m not thrilled by this combination of whatever this purple berry color is combined with the blue I’m using in my report. I’d have to make a decision on whether the consistency of my navigation color means I go back and redesign the report(s) to use a different theme or change my app theme color to one of the limited 22 options instead.
Overall though, the new navigation experience is a hugely exciting and impactful change for Power BI viewers. I’m looking forward to exploring some more of the possibilities both with Power BI as well as external content.