SharePoint site design and difficulty creating SharePoint master pages has plagued most of the BI developers I know including myself. In the last 16 years, I have seen my fair share of ugly SharePoint BI sites, dashboards, reports and applications with incredibly powerful information or decision making capabilities disregarded by the business simply because the user interface didn’t “look good”. Shallow…absolutely, but indeed true. It is human nature to perceive and associate the quality of an application or information based upon the look and feel of the packaging around what is being shown. User interface design and dashboard design are both a bit of an art and science.
So here is the good news for anyone that has struggled with SharePoint user interface design for BI sites and applications. In SharePoint 2013 there are new Design Manager features can automatically convert HTML designs you create or get from standard HTML web template resources to SharePoint master pages. There is some tweaking that needs to be done to put the main content div and web parts in the desired locations but the developer experience to get a decent looking SharePoint site is light years easier than it is in SharePoint 2010. You can also use any HTML editor now – you are no longer locked into SharePoint Designer. That is another rah rah from me since I am old Dreamweaver fan myself from the 90’s. You can then combine the better branding with the new mobile device channel features for applying responsive design targeted to specific mobile devices to better “mobilize” your SharePoint BI…the possibilities are quite amazing for the mere human to now easily accomplish. To learn more about these nice new features, Benjamin’s blog has good step by step coverage and here is the link to the related MSDN topics.
One of my wish list items is to have a few BI friendly master pages added to CodePlex…working that one already but always love to get creative, inspirational ideas from others in the data loving profession.