February 25

New To Data Visualisation? Here’s 3 Things You Need To Know

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Visuals make it easier to tell stories with data, so learning how to create powerful visualisations is a vital weapon in the Data Scientist's armoury. In this blog post I'm going to give you our pick of the best online courses on data visualisation for beginners to help you get a great start.

Before that, though, we're going to take a brief look at what data visualisation is and why it's important, and I'll give you my top 3 tips.

Our top 3 courses on getting started with data visualisation are all based in Excel so you'll get a great grounding in the basics.

I'll also give you my top tips for courses on data visualisation for beginners in Matplotlib, Tableau, ggplot2, Power BI and d3.js, so there's something for everyone here.

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Data Visualisation - Introduction

Big Data is a very powerful discovery tool, but when you analyse a lot of data you often end up with a lot of results - too many to hold them all in your head simultaneously.

Data visualisation is the representation of data or information in a visual format, such as a graph or chart, which allows us to use images to communicate relationships of the data.

If you're just getting started with data visualisation, our pick of the 3 best courses on data visualisation for beginners will help you to understand the principles of data visualisation and help you choose the right chart for the right data.

3 Secrets of Data Visualisation That Everyone Misses @chi2innovations #datascience #dataviz

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FYI - this blog post is part of a series of 7 posts on learning how to be a Data Science Ninja, which also includes posts on statistics, python programming, neural nets and other stuff. You can find all the other posts in the series below (and there's a reminder at the foot of the post too).

Jump Station

This blog post is part of a series of 7 posts on learning how to be a Data Science Ninja.

For more detail, choose from the other options below:

Learn To Be A Data Science Ninja – The Easy Way
How To Improve Your Data Science Game
Data Science – Statistics Should Be Your First Focus
Essential Python Courses For Highly Successful Data Scientists
How To Sharpen Your R Programming Skills
The 3 Step Survival Guide To Machine Learning
New To Data Visualisation? Here’s 3 Things You Need To Know

Why Data Visualisation is Important

Apparently, visuals are processed 60,000 times faster in the brain than text (although this is disputed), and are more easily committed to long-term memory. Visuals also make it easier to tell stories with data. Hey - I think I've heard that before somewhere... (spoiler alert - 'Telling Stories With Data' is our strapline).

Most of all though - visuals can help to simplify complex information.

So learning how to create powerful data visualisations is a vital weapon in the Data Scientist's armoury. I guess we all start off in Excel, but pretty soon you'll need to transition away and start using more powerful dataviz tools to plot data, like MatplotlibTableau or d3.js.

We've often been asked about getting started with data visualisation and how to create inspirational data visualisations, so we've searched the web and found some really useful online data plotting courses to help you make that transition.

If you're just getting started with data visualisation, we highlight our picks for the top 3 courses on data visualisation for beginners, which are all Excel-based.

For the slightly more advanced we also list our picks of the best courses in Tableau for beginners, courses on getting started with d3 and some Power BI courses too.

For those of you that code in R, we have some ggplot2 for beginners courses, and for Python coders some courses on getting started with matplotlib.

Best Data Visualisation Courses for Beginners
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Top 3 Data Visualisation Tips

For those just getting started with data visualisation, here are my top 3 tips of essential data viz techniques you should know:

  1. 1
    Know Your Audience – Use Visuals to Grab Their Attention
  2. 2
    Graphs Don’t Lie, People Do – Choose The Chart Type Carefully
  3. 3
    Communicate Clearly – Context is Everything!

Data Viz - Know Your Audience

Make sure that your graphs and charts are inspiring and tailored to your audience.

If you're presenting to an audience of politicians, executives or the general public, you'll find that pie charts and simple bar charts are as deep as you need to go.

On the other hand, delivering to an audience of specialists that expect depth and rigour, you'll need to go the extra mile to impress. Don't forget the confidence intervals!

Data Viz - Choose Your Chart Type Carefully

Graphs don't lie. They don't know how to. All they do is present the data that you give them on the chart that you choose.

On the other hand, people do lie, whether intentionally or otherwise.

Choosing the right graph for the right data will help your audience understand the true story of the data, but choosing the wrong graph will often lead your audience to the wrong conclusion.

Data Viz - Context is Everything!

Graphs often show trends, and those trends represent the real world - which is constantly changing!

Make sure to explain your charts in sufficient depth for your audience to understand the trends that they see.

Label the graphs to indicate where and why things change.

Communicate clearly!

Did you know that you can get Data Science audiobooks for FREE with an Audible Trial?

Check them out!

Data Visualisation for Beginners - Top 3 Courses

This blog post brings you what we consider to be the Top 3 courses on data visualisation for beginners at Udemy.

In their own words, Udemy is "a global marketplace for learning and teaching online where students are mastering new skills and achieving their goals by learning from an extensive library of over 45,000 courses taught by expert instructors".

In our opinion, Udemy is one of the best platforms in the world for learning about Data Science. Well, at the beginner and intermediate levels, at least - the advanced level is a whole different ball game...

Many of the courses at Udemy are free, and when they're not they're often deeply discounted. Courses that are offered for £/$/Euro 200 are often on sale for just 10 or 15 £/$/Euro - superb value!

Better still, once you've enrolled for a particular course, you get lifetime access to it, even when the course is updated.

Got it? OK, let's dive in.

Our pick of the top 3 courses for getting started with data visualisation are all Excel-based to get a good grounding in the basics.

Lower down are our top tips for courses on data visualisation for beginners in Matplotlib, Tableau, ggplot2, Power BI and d3.js.

#1

Microsoft Excel - Data Visualization, Excel Charts & Graphs

Maven Analytics and Chris Dutton

4.6 of 5 stars

Master 20+ Excel charts, build advanced Excel visuals & learn data analysis

Ask people what comes to mind when they think of Excel, and odds are they'll say "spreadsheets". The truth is, Excel is an incredibly powerful and dynamic data visualization platform for those willing to think beyond rows, columns, and primitive pie charts - and I'm here to prove it...

COURSE DESCRIPTION

This course gives you a deep, 100% comprehensive understanding of Excel's latest data visualization tools and techniques. I'll show you when, why, and how to use each Excel chart type, introduce key data visualization best practices, and guide you through interactive, hands-on demos and Excel exercises every step of the way.

We'll kick things off by exploring each of the 20+ charts & graphs introduced in Excel 2016, including:

  • Bar & Column charts
  • Histograms & Pareto charts (Office 365, Excel 2016 or Excel 2019)
  • Line charts & trend lines
  • Area charts
  • Pies & Donuts
  • Scatter plots & Bubble charts
  • Box & Whisker charts (Office 365, Excel 2016 or Excel 2019)
  • Tree Maps & Sunbursts (Office 365, Excel 2016 or Excel 2019)
  • Waterfall & Funnel charts (Office 365, Excel 2016 or Excel 2019)
  • Radar & Stock charts
  • Heat maps, 3-D Surface & contour charts
  • Chloropleths & Geospatial maps
  • Custom combo charts & graphs
  • Sparklines
  • And more...

From there we'll dive into a series of 12+ advanced Excel demos guaranteed to turn you into an absolute data viz rockstar. These aren't "textbook" demos that you can find on Excel YouTube channels; these are projects adapted from actual, award-winning work featured by Microsoft, MIT, and the New York Times. I've built my analytics career around data visualization, and I can help you do the same.

#2

Sharper skills using Microsoft Excel 2010 for business

Ulrika Hedlund

4.6 of 5 stars

Learn how to effectively use Microsoft Excel 2010 to modify, analyze and visualize business data

In this course you will learn how to efficiently navigate spreadsheets, you will learn how to use various tools to analyze data and how to create great looking reports with tables and charts.

COURSE DESCRIPTION

Do you wish you were one of those who can do wonders with numbers in a spreadsheet?  Do you want to get up to speed quickly and learn from an expert how to effectively use Microsoft Excel to perform common business tasks? If so, this is the course for you!

In this course you will learn how to efficiently navigate spreadsheets, you will learn how to use various tools to analyze data and how to create great looking reports with tables and charts.

Instead of learning how to use Excel feature by feature, you will learn how to effectively use Microsoft Excel 2010 in real life business scenarios like calculating costs in a marketing budget, analyzing sales opportunities and creating sales reports. 

#3

Excel Case Studies for Business Students

Jeff Knowlton

4.0 of 5 stars

Learn Excel functions & business analytics via authentic case studies. A QuickStart tutorial is included for beginners!

In five hours of content including 50+ lessons, this course covers the important Excel functions to analyze business data. Most lessons have a practice session, including two Excel files for each practice session: the starting point and the finish point.

Upon completion, students will be able to analyze large sets of business data, display the results visually with charts, and explain the results in writing, and with clarity.

COURSE DESCRIPTION

Excel has become the primary analytical tool of the business world. But this is not just an Excel course: this course is about business analytics. It’s about turning business data into valuable information, using Excel as the tool.

This course is designed for college students taking business courses. While giving a guest lecture at the University of Oregon, I learned that both students and faculty were not happy with the existing business courses that taught Excel. The courses were too focused on the mechanics of Excel, on the commands and menu paths. And they used contrived, artificial examples.

Improve your grades in business classes. Be better prepared for interviews.

So I designed this course around authentic case studies from my experience as a senior business executive. The first case study is based on sales reporting and analysis. Students are given all of the sales information for a small company for an entire year. Through applying Excel functions like VLOOKUP and IF, the data is prepared for analysis. Then using pivot tables, the data is summarized and analyzed. The results are displayed visually with charts. Finally, the results are explained in writing. And students learn some “Business Basics” along the way, about invoicing, credit memos, and sales analysis.

Students learn Excel while answering real business questions.

The second case study is based on service repair and analysis. Students are given text files with the repair history of two different service sub-contractors (more than 50,000 records). The data must be imported, cleaned, and harmonized, using Excel text, date, and logical functions. Finally, the data can be analyzed with pivot tables and the results displayed visually: Which sub-contractor repairs products more quickly?

These are the skills employers are looking for!

The course begins with an optional “Quickstart” Tutorial for beginners, or for those students who haven’t used Excel in awhile, to refresh their knowledge.

The University of Oregon uses these case studies in two of their information management courses. And my other Udemy courses are recommended by the Oregon Business Education Association.

This course covers these topics in Excel:

  • Formatting Data
  • Cleaning "Dirty Data" with Functions: Text, Date, and Logical Functions
  • Filtering and Sorting Data with Table Functions
  • Analyzing Data with Pivot Tables
  • Visualizing the Results with Charts and Conditional Formatting

Top 3 Power BI Courses

If you're not quite ready to transition away from Excel but you need something a little more robust, you might like to check out our pick of the top 6 Power BI courses.

These are the top rated Power BI courses at Udemy and are highly recommended.

Another 3 Power BI Courses

Our pick of the top 3 Power BI courses aren't the only Power BI courses at Udemy. Actually, there are loads of them, and we found it difficult to pare it down to just 3, so here are another 3 Power BI courses for you to check out.

Top 3 Courses in Tableau for Beginners

The 3 Tableau for beginners courses below are among the best and highest rated at Udemy, and in our opinion are some of the best courses on Tableau for Data Science.

Another 3 Courses in Tableau for Beginners

There are loads of courses on Tableaus for Data Science at Udemy, so if the 3 Tableau for beginners courses above aren't quite right for you, then here are another 3 of the best courses on Tableau for Data Science.

Top 3 Courses: D3 for Beginners

If you're not learning Tableau for Data Science, then maybe you're using something more fundamental. Here we have the top 3 Udemy courses in d3 for beginners. They're perfect if you're just getting started with D3.

Top 3 Courses: ggplot2 for Beginners

If you're into R for doing stats and coding your own Data Science, then at some point you're going to come across ggplot2, which is used for data visualisation in R.

Here are our picks of the best 3 courses for getting started with ggplot2.

Top 3 Courses: Getting Started With Matplotlib

If R isn't your thing, but Python is, then you'll want to take a look at our pick of the top 3 courses at Udemy for getting started with Matplotlib - a plotting library for Python.

Data Visualisation Books

If courses aren't really your thing and you prefer to learn by books instead, we have a post dedicated to The Best Data Visualisation Books for Data Scientists.

Check them out - you won't be disappointed!

45+ Awesome Gifts for Data Scientists, Statisticians and Other Geeks
Computational Statistics is the New Holy Grail – Experts
3 Crucial Tips for Data Processing and Analysis
Free Must-Read Statistics Books for Aspiring Data Scientists
Correlation Is Not Causation – Pirates Prove It!
Fantastic Free Data Science Books for Aspiring Data Scientists
The Best Data Visualisation Books – for Everyone

Data Visualisation for Beginners - Summary

Data visualisation is an incredibly important skill for anyone that works with data to have.

Hopefully, the data viz courses in this post will help you represent your data appropriately and truthfully by using the right chart for the right data.

Are there any great data visualisation courses that I've missed out?

Leave a comment below and I'll add it to the post!

Jump Station

This blog post is part of a series of 7 posts on learning how to be a Data Science Ninja.

For more detail, choose from the other options below:

Learn To Be A Data Science Ninja – The Easy Way
How To Improve Your Data Science Game
Data Science – Statistics Should Be Your First Focus
Essential Python Courses For Highly Successful Data Scientists
How To Sharpen Your R Programming Skills
The 3 Step Survival Guide To Machine Learning
New To Data Visualisation? Here’s 3 Things You Need To Know

Tags

data science courses, data science ninja courses, dataviz


Lee Baker

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About the Author

Lee Baker is an award-winning software creator that lives behind a keyboard in a darkened room. Illuminated only by the light from his monitor, he aspires to finding the light switch.With decades of experience in science, statistics and artificial intelligence, he has a passion for telling stories with data, yet despite explaining it a dozen times, his mother still doesn’t understand what he does for a living.Insisting that data analysis is much simpler than we think it is, he creates friendly, easy-to-understand video courses that teach the fundamentals of data analysis and statistics.As the CEO of Chi-Squared Innovations, one day he’d like to retire to do something simpler, like crocodile wrestling.

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Computational Statistics is the New Holy Grail – Experts
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