Big Data is the future, and it's right here, right now!
Except that it isn't...
There's no doubt about it that Big Data is a powerful discovery tool, but all too often when you analyse a lot of data, you end up with a lot of results - too many, in fact, to be able to hold them all in your head simultaneously.
So I'll amend my earlier statement:
Data Visualisation is the future, and it's right here, right now!
Apparently, visuals are processed 60,000 times faster in the brain than text, 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...(see website footer for a clue!).
Most of all though - visuals can help to simplify complex information.
So learning how to create powerful 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 to use more powerful tools, like Matplotlib, Tableau or d3.js.
We've often been asked how to get started in learning how to create visualisations in these platforms, so we've searched the web and found some really useful online video courses to help you make that transition.
This blog post brings you what we consider to be the Top 3 Data Visualisation Courses 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 £/$ 200 are often on sale for just 10 or 15 £/$ - 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.
One of our 'Top 3 Courses' is based in Python, one in Tableau and the other in d3.js. We feel that these are the top courses in each of these platform categories, so without further ado, here they are...
Delivered by Stone River eLearning, who boast over 250,000 students, this 6 hour course will help you get started with the basic Matplotlib charts - scatter plots, histograms, bar charts, etc., and gain an understanding of how to edit titles, legends, axes and other essential ways to customise your plots.
These are the essential basics.
The first practical lesson of graph plotting uses stock prices parsed from the internet, and you'll use these to plot a variety of useful charts, customising as you go, and creating your own style. The course then takes you through some more advanced geographic and 3D plotting techniques using Python plug-ins.
Don't be put off by this course if stock prices and 3D plots are not your thing. You're here to learn how to use Matplotlib in Python, and the lessons learnt are easily transferrable to other types of plot using your own data.
Nevertheless, from our perspective it would have been more useful if the practical lessons would have been about more typical graphs that we use every day in Data Science. Ah well, I guess you can't have it all...
The bottom line here is that using Matplotlib with Python is a really useful Data Science skill to have, and it can take a ridiculous amount of time to figure out how to get simple graphs and customise them to your needs. When you get stuck, it can take hours searching through documentation and internet forums trying to figure it out. When I first started programming plots and graphs I struggled along for months with absolutely no help at all (a very long time ago) - I wish I'd had this course back then to help me get going.
Data Visualization with Python and Matplotlib is - in our opinion - well worth the entry fee, even when the course is listed at full price, and this course will save you weeks or even months of torment.
In this course, delivered by Lukas Halim, you'll get into the basic essentials of chart plotting in Tableau right away. Pie charts, bar charts, box-and-whisker plots, histograms and more are what you'll learn in the early stages.
After a few lessons about how to manipulate data and combine datasets in Tableau, Lukas then takes you on a magical statistery tour (is that really a word or did I just make it up?) into trend lines, p-values and R-squared calculations.
Finally, for those of you that are interested in proving your worth to your current or future employer, Lukas takes you through the preparation you'll need to become certified as a Qualified Associate in Tableau.
Tableau is fast becoming one of those data visualisation tools that everybody loves to use, and is really useful for early-stage analysts and Data Scientists who haven't yet mastered the process of programming their own visualisations.
Lukas does a great job with this course, and his students think so too - 90% of his students gave this course a star rating of 4 or above (out of 5), and currently priced at £40 there's no need to wait for offers on this course - we think Tableau for Beginners - Get Certified Accelerate Your Career is great value.
Proficiency in D3 is one of those programming skills that is fast becoming a 'must have' for data scientists, and although there is quite a steep learning curve, once you have mastered the basics you quickly realise that with d3.js everything is possible (FYI - we use d3 extensively!).
This course is brought to you by a Canadian company - Infinite Skills - who have a wide range of courses (that all appear to be priced at £50) and are very experienced in what they do.
The most important thing about d3 is in knowing how to handle your data, and they get right down to this, reviewing arrays and objects in the very first lesson (OK, there are some pre-amble lessons first...).
From here you will learn how to create simple and more complex bar charts, manipulate the axes, scale your data, style your plots with CSS, add text, flip and rotate axes, and make your charts interactive. From here you'll go on to learn about line charts and scatter plots.
By the time you've gone through these lessons you'll have a really good sense of how powerful d3 is and how easy it is to customise pretty much everything you need to.
The only downside is that these lessons are for version 3 of d3, whilst d3 is now onto version 4. There are differences between the versions, but I think that the pros outweigh the cons - the lessons you'll learn are invaluable in making the transition from [insert name of your usual viz program here] to d3.
We made the switch to d3 a few years ago and haven't regretted it. Steep learning curve? Sure - but Data Visualize Data with D3. js The Easy Way will help you overcome that in very short order.
So here we are - 3 data visualisation courses that should really get you motoring, whether you prefer Matplotlib in Python, or whether you choose to build your data visualisations in Tableau or d3.js.
Just a quick note - at the time of writing, all these courses were deeply discounted. Having said that, Udemy discount courses differently across alternate currencies and geographic regions, so I can't guarantee that these courses will be discounted when you view them.
Make sure you're registered to receive our bulletins and I'll make sure you're the first to know when the discounts are on.
Here's a quick reminder of our Top 3 Data Visualisation Courses at Udemy:
Final word - when you've done any of these courses, please return and leave some feedback and a review in the comments below. If you loved the course, great - come and tell us. If you hated it, that's great too - leave a comment saying what you didn't like about it.
If you discover any better courses out there, let me know - I may change my recommendations!
This blog post is part of a series on learning to be a Data Science Ninja - check out the other posts in the series below:
All 7 posts in the series:
- Learn to be a Data Science Ninja - The Easy Way