Power BI is a mobile-friendly reporting solution. Every report that you generate can be viewed on the Mobile too. However, it doesn’t mean that the report is designed for mobile, or in other words; it doesn’t mean that is it a mobile report page. You have to make some changes, and take some extra considerations for your reports to be mobile reports. In this blog post, I’ll explain a few simple but very effective tips to take your Power BI report one level further for mobile devices. If you like to learn more about Power BI; read the Power BI book from Rookie to Rock Star.
Why Mobile-Device-View is Important?
If I could recommend one thing to speed up the adoption of Power BI in most organizations, that would be leveraging the mobile view of the report. This might look unnecessary, or a luxury thing for many, but in fact, this is a very important feature. Most of the end-users of BI systems are decision-makers, people who are on the board of directors or have many other things to do in their job than just being behind their computer all day long. They go to meetings and they demand analysis to be with them all the time. They may not carry a laptop into a meeting, but they will most likely have their phone with them. If you enable the mobile view of the reports, they have access to the most up-to-date data as an interactive report on their device, wherever they go. This would also amazingly reduce the need for printing of reports.
Power BI mobile layout for reports is an important step for a faster adoption of Power BI in many organizations.
Power BI Dashboard on Mobile Devices
First, let’s have a look at Power BI Dashboards on a mobile device. Here I have a Power BI Dashboard, which looks like the below in the web browser of a laptop;
If I look at the same report in the Power BI Mobile app, I will see below;
As you can see, the layout of the mobile device for the dashboard is different than the web browser. The reason is that Power BI automatically creates a mobile layout for every dashboard. If you want to modify that layout and change it, you can go to the Power BI service (through a web browser), click on Edit on the dashboard and then click on Mobile layout.
Now you will be able to see what the phone view of the dashboard looks like, and change it by adding or removing items from it.
By making changes in this view, you can immediately see the impact of that in the Power BI dashboard in the mobile app.
Power BI dashboard have a default phone view, which can be adjusted with going to Phone view.
Power BI Report in Mobile Devices
Power BI reports on mobile devices are a bit different than the dashboard. Let’s see what the experience for reports looks like. Below is the screenshot of the report in the Power BI service.
If you open this report in the mobile app of Power BI, it will look like the below screenshot;
As you can see there is a message asking you to rotate your device to view this report in landscape, and depending on the size of your phone you will see a landscape view of the phone like below;
This report is NOT designed for mobile. Power BI reports do not have a default mobile layout. Because this is the default view of the report, most people think that this is the mobile view of the report. In this view, as you can see, charts and slicers are smaller (it is a 6-inch small screen compared to a monitor by the way). This is not a good mobile design. You have to design your report to be more appropriate for mobile view. Here is how;
Designing Power BI Reports for Mobile Devices
In the Power BI Desktop, Go to the View tab, and select Phone Layout.
Now, you will see the Phone layout of the report, which is blank. The Power BI phone layout by default is blank, this is the reason that you have to see it in landscape mode by default. Now you will see the list of all visuals on the page in the right-hand side pane, and you can add them to the phone layout and size them as you want.
Here is a sample mobile design for this report;
Modify Visual Settings for Mobile Layout
Recently in early 2022, Microsoft’s Power BI team enabled the ability to set visual level settings for mobile layout. This means you can customize the setting of visuals and their appearance when opened on a mobile device. these settings include the font settings and many other properties.
At the time of writing this article, this setting is still in preview mode, which means you have to go to File > Options and Settings > Options to enable it below;
Now you can change the visualization format for any visual in the mobile layout. This will not affect your desktop layout.
As you can see, I changed the font size of the X-Axis and removed the Y-Axis in the visual below to make it looks better in the phone view.
When you make any changes in the settings, you will see a small mobile view icon for these settings meaning that this is a mobile-only setting and will not impact the desktop layout of the report.
Viewing the report on the phone
After this design, you can go back to the Desktop layout (by clicking on the mobile layout from the view tab), and publish the report. The newly published report will now have both views (mobile, and desktop).
Consider creating the Phone layout for every page in the Power BI report file.
In the list of reports in the mobile app, you will see a small mobile icon, showing that this report has a mobile view too;
When you open the report in the mobile app, you will see it exactly as per design;
As you can see, the mobile design of this report looks much better than the default view. If you open the same report in a web browser or desktop, you will see the desktop view. Your report has two separate views now.
Power BI report does NOT have default mobile layout. You have to design the mobile layout of your report for every page.
Considerations of Visual Design
Like many other visual pages, you have to consider a pattern that works best for your users. We are talking about mobile reports here, so some of the visual design hierarchies can be useful. This is not a post where we can go through all UX Design patterns. I just give you an example, Z-pattern is one of the most common designs;
What is the Z-pattern?
A Z-Pattern design traces the route the human eye travels when they read — left to right, top to bottom:
- First, people scan from the top left to the top right, forming an imaginary horizontal line
- Next, down and to the left side of the visible page, creating an imaginary diagonal line
- Last, back across to the right again, forming a second horizontal line
When viewers’ eyes move in this pattern, it forms an imaginary “Z” shape like the above screenshot. It’s important to note that Z-Pattern designs are not required to conform to a traditional Z-shape and the number of Z-Angles along the pattern can vary.
The above part about z-pattern is sourced from an article here: https://instapage.com/blog/z-pattern-layout
Here is how the z-pattern can be followed in a mobile report;
Creating mobile reports in Power BI is very simple. For the dashboard, there is a default view, which you can just adjust to the desired layout. However, for a Power BI report, you have to create a phone layout for your report. It is recommended to create a phone layout for all your report pages. With the increasing usage of mobile devices, and the number of mobile devices much more than desktop devices, this type of usage is something that you cannot overlook.
2 thoughts on “Power BI Design Tip; Design for Mobile Device”
The BIG limitation with the new mobile design is that for Tables & Matrices, while you can reduce font size, you cannot change the column width.
I’m sure such settings would also come in the future. The investment on Power BI mobile continues to grow