Eagle-eyed followers of Microsoft announcements may have noticed an announcement (MC173542) on February 14 that a “new look” was on the way for the Office365 NavBar in OneDrive for Business and SharePoint Online. This was a move that intends to better align the looks of the navbar across the Office365 suite. However, this process is not quite complete as there are still some areas with a slightly different menu flying out from the gear (such as in the Admin Center).
The gradual roll-out began with Targeted Release organizations starting on the 14th, and will expand to all tenants (non GCC) by early March 2019.
This actually tied to an announcement from the previous week (here), posted to the Microsoft OneDrive blog. Because I tend to focus on SharePoint, this message skipped my notice at the time.
Why It’s Important
Power User and Content Authors alike have become quite familiar with SharePoint’s settings menu as it has remained relatively unchanged for many years. This change, while not a complete ‘180’, may be startling to users.
Furthermore, there is a link here to your tenant’s branding under the Organization Profile section of the Admin Center. Let me break it down into the three common scenarios I can identify:
- You have no custom branding set.
Users will now be able to easily apply a theme of their choosing. To be clear, this is a user-specific change.
- You have custom branding set, but don’t mind if your users override.
When you receive the updates, your custom branding will remain intact as the default selection for users. However, if users click on the Gear they will have the ability to choose a different colour scheme.
In this case, you will leave the option above unselected under Navigation Bar Customization (under Organization Profile in Admin Center). One important note here is that allowing users to change their themes is larger than simply the colour scheme. Changing the theme to one of the Microsoft provided themes will also remove your company’s logo from the NavBar, if one was configured.
- You have custom branding set, but don’t want your users to be able to override.
When you receive the updates, your custom branding will remain intact. If users click on the Gear they will have the ability to choose a different colour scheme.
In this case, you will leave the option above selected under Navigation Bar Customization (under Organization Profile in Admin Center). Notice, however, that Microsoft’s High Contrast theme will still be available to users.
To Wrap Up
Some readers may have already seen this change in their tenant, while others can expect the change to occur between now and “early March”. I would argue half of this change is just aesthetic and will only take users a few uses to find their way around the settings options. The other half, which I chose to focus on, does pose larger implications for tenants that have been deliberate about their theme. Hopefully, this post helps you determine the best approach for your organization, and ultimately, how much power you want to leave in the hands of the end user?