5 minutes

How to make aesthetically pleasing spreadsheets (easiest method)

Excel is a great tool for storing/editing data, but let’s be real: the interface is very plain and can be counter-intuitive. Here's how you can fix that in a matter of minutes!

Excel design

There are several ways to design your Excel spreadsheets to look prettier, but those options are quite limited and can be time consuming. We'll show you a better way!

We'll be using a tool called Polymer Search to transform your boring Excel dataset into a beautiful, interactive aesthetic spreadsheet in 30 seconds! Here's a sneak peak of what it'll look like:

aesthetic spreadsheets


Why make aesthetic spreadsheets?

There’s 3 main important reasons why you want to make your spreadsheets look good:

  1. It minimizes data fatigue
  2. Data presentation purposes
  3. Data analysis purposes

Data fatigue is a common issue for spreadsheet users and even expert data analysts. People who use Polymer Search report less data fatigue and more productivity!

Separating columns by colors and tags also makes data easier to read and assists with filtering data.


How to make spreadsheets look professional

Here's how to make spreadsheets look professional in a way that's impossible to do on Excel itself:

  1. First you’ll need to sign up to Polymer Search (it’s free).
  2. Next, add your Excel file onto Polymer (you can also connect Google Sheets/Airtable/Google Drive).
  3. Open Polymer app.
  4. Customize the design according to your tastes! (optional)
Add data csv or xls

Since the basic design looks very clean, you won't have to do much customization (if any), but the option is there if you want to go for a certain look or feel.

There are also several in-built tools for data analysis: namely the pivot table feature and auto-explainer feature which uses AI to help you interpret your data. There's also a visualization feature to create bar charts, scatterplots, heatmaps and time series. Feel free to try these out!

Creating an Aesthetic Excel Spreadsheet

The term "aesthetic excel spreadsheet" might sound a bit fancy, but in essence, it refers to a spreadsheet that's both functional and visually appealing. Here's a step-by-step guide to achieving this:

  1. Choose a Color Palette: Stick to 2-3 primary colors to keep your spreadsheet looking clean and cohesive. Use softer shades as they're easier on the eyes.
  2. Utilize Cell Styles: Excel offers a variety of cell styles that allow you to differentiate data types or importance levels. This not only makes the data pop but ensures you or anyone else can understand the data hierarchy at a glance.
  3. Integrate Data Visualization: If applicable, incorporate charts, graphs, or pivot tables. They not only make data interpretation easier but also add a visual element to break the monotony of grids.
  4. Maintain Consistency: This can't be stressed enough. Consistent font styles, cell sizes, and color codes go a long way in making a spreadsheet aesthetic.
  5. Avoid Clutter: While it might be tempting to use all the bells and whistles Excel offers, simplicity often leads to better aesthetics. Limit the use of borders, and keep ample white space to ensure the data stands out.

Remember, the goal is to create a balance between form and function. An aesthetic excel spreadsheet should not only be pleasing to the eyes but also easy to navigate and understand.

Trends in Aesthetic Spreadsheets

With the increasing emphasis on data visualization and presentation, aesthetic spreadsheets have become more than just a fad. Here are some of the latest trends:

  1. Minimalism: The "less is more" philosophy is reigning supreme. Clean lines, limited colors, and a focus on content are the hallmarks of this trend.
  2. Interactive Elements: Tools like Polymer Search have made it possible to have interactive spreadsheets. Users can now hover over data points for more information or even manipulate data in real-time.
  3. Integrating Multimedia: Some advanced spreadsheets now include multimedia elements like images, GIFs, or even short videos to make data more relatable and engaging.
  4. Mobile Optimization: With the rise of mobile devices, there's a growing trend towards creating spreadsheets that are mobile-friendly, ensuring data accessibility on the go.
  5. Collaboration Features: Real-time collaboration and sharing capabilities are becoming standard features, allowing teams to work together seamlessly on data projects.

To stay ahead in the game, it's essential to keep an eye on these trends and integrate them where applicable. However, always prioritize the primary function of a spreadsheet: data representation and interpretation.

Layout customizations

You can customize your layout by pressing this icon:

layout settings

There are 3 layouts to choose from: 

  1. Grid View
  2. Card View
  3. Gallery View

Grid view

aesthetic spreadsheets

Grid view is basically an Excel spreadsheet, but with better design, interactivity and easier navigation.

This is the main layout used for analyzing data. The other 2 layouts don't have the in-built pivot table feature called ‘smart pivot.’

Card view 

Excel design 2

Card view organizes your data into rows. You can customize which tags are showing and can include an image for each row.

Gallery view: Make Excel Look Like an Application

Excel Design 3

Gallery view organizes your data into rows and columns and allows you to include an image for each of them. This essentially turns your Excel spreadsheet into an application. Examples of this:

  1. FlixGem
  2. VR Heaven

This one can be the most beautiful to use, but setting it up can also be the most time consuming. Gallery view is best used when you have image data, but it's possible to use it with no images too. Here's what that'll look like:

spreadsheet gallery view

To add images: you'll need to create a separate column in your Excel file and include a URL link to the image.

Color customizations

The default Polymer Search color scheme already looks 10x better than Excel, but if you want to have your own custom colors, you can do so by going into settings -> advanced.

settings

There you can change:

  • Tag colors
  • Background color
  • Navbar colors
  • Sidebar colors

Also, don't forget the sidebar does exist and is an extremely useful tool for filtering data:

sidebar for filtering data

Start making beautiful spreadsheets here.

Posted on
August 10, 2023
under Blog
August 10, 2023
Written by
Rand Owens
Founding team member at Motive (Formerly KeepTruckin) and passionate about all things Marketing, RevOps, and Go-To-Market. VP of Marketing @ Polymer Search.

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