Global navigation in SharePoint has been a missing piece of the platform since its early days. This gap was so big that Total Solutions built 365 Navigation to help fill it. But, Microsoft answered our calls for SharePoint global navigation in 2021. The SharePoint app bar brings global navigation to the platform after years of waiting.

What is the App Bar?

The app bar appears on the left side of SharePoint on desktop, and on the bottom of the mobile experience. The Home icon on the app bar is where global navigation lives. If an admin has not configured global navigation, then this icon will link to SharePoint’s start page. The app bar can replicate the navigation on your intranet’s home site, the hub site it is part of, or take its own form altogether.

Image of the SharePoint app bar tabs
The SharePoint App Bar (Source: Microsoft)

Global navigation through the app bar appears on every site within your organization’s tenant. This provides an extra layer of navigation that isn’t confined to an intranet hub or individual site. The app bar makes it easy for users to move from high-level topics across your whole intranet to finding more precise needs within individual sites.

How Do I Set Up Global Navigation?

The app bar can use the navigation structure of your intranet’s home site as your global navigation experience. To do this, your home site must be a hub site within your intranet. This approach makes it possible to build a single navigation experience through your intranet’s home page, which makes it easier to maintain global navigation.

Image of a site navigation in the global navigation tab 1
(Source: Microsoft)

If your home site is not a hub site within your intranet, then the app bar can display a separate navigation structure altogether. Admins can manually build the navigation structure to replicate the navigation of a different site or be completely unique altogether. This provides flexibility when building navigation that will exist on every site on your intranet, ensuring that it provides values to all users.

Image of a site navigation in the global navigation tab 2
(Source: Microsoft)

It is also possible for the app bar to replace the navigation structured used by a selected hub site on your intranet. This approach makes it easy for admins to build a single navigation structure that can be used by a hub site and globally. Choosing this approach requires your intranet’s home site to also be a hub site.

Image of a site navigation in the global navigation tab 3
(Source: Microsoft)

What Else Does the App Bar Offer?

Admins can further tailor SharePoint global navigation through the app bar to match the branding of their organization. As an admin, it is possible to replace both the home icon and the navigation header with custom graphics. Using custom graphics provides a broad layer of branding that enhances the SharePoint experience across your intranet.

There are three other icons on the app bar that are visible on every page: Sites, News and Files. These icons provide targeted content to each user based on sites they follow and their Microsoft 365 usage. Pairing these targeted content areas with the global navigation experience adds another dimension to how users move across SharePoint.

Going Beyond the App Bar for Global Navigation

Using the app bar for SharePoint global navigation is effective when working with a single home site. However, it can be restricting for organizations who need multiple top-level landing pages. This makes it difficult for the app bar to be effective for large intranets that span multiple locations, offices, and teams.

365 Navigation can go one level higher than the app bar. With 365 Navigation, it’s possible to build a truly global SharePoint navigation experience. The navigation offered by the tool can be configured independently without a home site. 365 Navigation is part of the 365 Modernization Toolkit, which Total Solutions built to help organizations drive Microsoft 365 adoption.

Megamenu Example
365 Navigation Goes Beyond What the App Bar Offers

SharePoint global navigation gives your intranet a common thread for users to have across all pages. SharePoint’s new app bar provides your intranet with a new, global navigation experience. Having a global navigation experience can drive adoption and ease of use across SharePoint. If your team wants help taking advantage of the SharePoint app bar or wants to pair the app bar with 365 Navigation, then reach out to our team.