Remember this quote from Hal Varian: So what’s getting ubiquitous and cheap? Data. And what is complementary to data? Analysis.
And some of my earliest words on this site: It is true. I like collecting data. I have epic spreadsheets full of data.
Then much more recently I said my guiding principles of spreadsheet design to follow shortly, so as you'd expect, here's a top five:
- No bitmaps. No logos. No extra graphics whatsoever. The spreadsheet should look nice, of course, but it should look nice because of the clarity and elegance of the information presented within it.
- No extra colours, lines, shades, formats. Less strictly observed than the rule above, but a rule nonetheless. Of course there should be colours, lines, shades - plenty of them, as many as needed - but it should all be there only to segment and highlight the areas that need it. There should not be "extra" formatting.
- No macros. Obviously, because they could harbour viruses. Less obviously, because they are hidden, because they need to be applied separately. Everything in the spreadsheet should be open and clear. I have all sorts of complicated functions and formulas in my spreadsheets, but they are explicitly within visible cells, not within macros.
- No hidden sheets, no hidden columns, no hidden formulas. Clearly I am not trying to protect something sold as a commercial application, I am talking about those spreadsheets that we all develop and distribute on a daily basis. By allowing "anyone" to pick up and enhance and improve your work, everyone benefits. Like open source principles on a closed source product.
- Everything above suggests that it is the data that is critical, not the fluff around it. So get the numbers right. That's the most important rule of all.