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How to Impress Your Audience with a Stunning Power BI Report Design - With an image as background!

Updated: Nov 16, 2023

Power BI Canvas background image, example 1 | Northwall Consulting

I get that there are plenty of skilled Power BI experts out there who know how to structure data, create advanced DAX measures, and choose the right visuals. But, you see, this article isn't about any of that.

This article was created to inspire you to explore alternative tools that can help you create stunning and time-efficient dashboard or report designs. Because we all know that a well-crafted design can enhance audience engagement and help capture their attention more effectively.

Design best practices!

First, when it comes to Power BI layout and design, it's essential to:

  1. Keep a consistent layout.

  2. Choose an attractive color palette.

  3. Utilize clear labels.

  4. Prioritize user-friendliness.

  5. Ensure your design aligns with your company's colors, logos, and industry.

  6. Remember that most people will read from the top left corner to the bottom right corner, just like a newspaper or a book.

How can we achieve this?

Did you know you can upload a custom image as the background of your Power BI canvas, which will help you speed up your design process?

In this article, we will look at three different tools you can use to create your designs.

PowerPoint, Canva, and Microsoft Designer.

I chose these three tools for different reasons: PowerPoint and Canva are applications I frequently use in my daily work. However, I also included Microsoft Designer as an experiment due to its AI capabilities.

Let's see how you can add a background image to Power BI

Let's start by exploring the Power BI process to better understand canvas settings. In Power BI, you can begin with a blank page or ensure that no visual is selected. Then, navigate to the 'Visualizations' tab and click on the "Format your report page" button.

Power BI - Settings

Within the expandable menu, you'll find all the settings for your report page. Now, expand the "Canvas background" option. This is where you can modify the background color and transparency and insert an image into the background, which is precisely what we'll be doing in this "inspirational session."

Before we proceed, let's clarify the importance of image size and how to scale it to match your canvas, not to make it look all "pixely". The default canvas size in Power BI is 16:9, with a height of 720 pixels and a width of 1280 pixels. You have two options here: you can either locate or create an image that precisely matches this scale and pixel count, or you can adjust your canvas size to align with your chosen image. To modify the canvas size, access the "Canvas Settings" section by expanding the corresponding menu in the 'Visualizations' tab. If you decide to alter the canvas size, you also have the flexibility to create a report in portrait orientation rather than landscape, which we'll illustrate in the next section.

-Let's go on the design journey!

Microsoft PowerPoint

Let's begin with PowerPoint, a user-friendly and efficient tool for creating impressive designs either from scratch or by utilizing pre-made templates. If you have the Power BI desktop app, it's highly probable that you already have PowerPoint installed on your computer.

In this quick demonstration with the goal of inspiration, I will show you how to utilize pre-made PowerPoint templates, often referred to as "Themes."

This video is to guide you through the process of selecting a template, making alterations to it, resizing the format, and then adding your design to Power BI:

Here are three different report designs I quickly created using a PowerPoint background:

Power BI Canvas background image, example 2 | Northwall Consulting

This design is straightforward yet vibrant. I'd like to draw your attention to the visual titles here; I'm using a text box with a distinct design to make the titles more prominent and to add depth to the report. Additionally, observe how I've used the same color for both the data value in the title and the visual itself.

Power BI Canvas background image, example 3 | Northwall Consulting

In this design, I've included page navigation buttons at the bottom to enhance the report's usability, making it feel more like an "app" and simplifying the navigation experience.

Power BI Canvas background image, example 4 | Northwall Consulting

As mentioned earlier, here's an example of a portrait-oriented report. In this case, I've placed my visuals within pre-designed boxes that are part of the overall design template.

Oh, and in case you're curious about the data in these reports, it's not real data; it's actually from the Power BI sample dataset that comes included with the Power BI.

-Let's move on to the next app!

No worries if you're unfamiliar with Canva or haven't used it before. However, I recommend giving it a try, especially if you're someone like me who switches between a PC and a Mac. Canva is a web application that stores all your designs, allowing you to access them from any device, making it convenient for seamless work across different platforms.

To better explain Canva, here is the ChatGPT's short description:

Canva is an easy-to-use online graphic design platform that empowers users to create stunning visual content with various customizable templates and design tools, suitable for everything from social media posts to presentations and marketing materials.

In this video, you'll see how to adjust the canvas size in Canva and a demonstration of creating a quick design:

Here are four different report designs I quickly created using Canva-designed background images:

Power BI Canvas background image, example 1 | Northwall Consulting

In this design, I've prepared a background that includes a company logo and a graphic element in advance. I'd like to draw your attention to the fact that I've incorporated 'Card' elements into certain visuals, such as 'Sales by Year and Month' within the visual. I've included a card visual to inform the user about the 'total sale amount' and at the same time as they see the sales trend.

Power BI Canvas background image, example 5 | Northwall Consulting

In this design, my intention was to demonstrate how it would appear with an image in the background. While it might not be my personal favorite, I hope it serves as inspiration for you to create something even more impressive.

Power BI Canvas background image, example 6 | Northwall Consulting

In this design, if you look at the left section containing all the filters, I incorporated the boxes and the title directly into the background image. Afterward, I positioned the filter inside the boxes, set the background transparency to 100%, and removed the title.

Power BI Canvas background image, example 7 | Northwall Consulting

Here, we have yet another design example: I used a picture as the background with color-coordinated visuals to match.

-Let's move on to our experiment!

Microsoft Designer

For the final design tool, I decided to explore something new, specifically an AI-powered solution. After some brief research, I came across Microsoft Designer, a tool equipped with the capability to create an image based on a simple statement using OpenAI's DALL-E 2. (I already had access to it through my Microsoft Account.)

For the background, I requested it to generate an image with a space-themed backdrop featuring the company logo placed in the top left corner for 'SpaceS'. The required dimensions for the image are 720 pixels in height and 1280 pixels in width.

Power BI Canvas background image, example 8 | Northwall Consulting

This background was generated. I created some straightforward visuals, adjusting their transparency to ensure the background remained visible without distracting from the visuals. My goal was to harmonize the visuals with the color theme and enhance the overall visual appeal.

It also generated a slogan under the logo, which I found funny, so I kept it.

Final thoughts on Power BI Report Backgrounds

As I mentioned earlier, there are many tools to help you create a fantastic background that can easily be added to your Power BI design. Hopefully, I was able to inspire you to go make some amazing and inspiring Power BI Reports/Dashboards!

Let make some stunning Power BI Report Background Designs!

Happy Power BI development, and take care!

Alexander Nordvall - CEO of Northwall Consulting Northwall Consulting LLC

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