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Data Visualization: A must have skill

Data Visualization: A must have skill

Data Visualization is usually talked along with terms like data science and data analysis. The so-called most valued job in today’s market, data science has seen 334% market growth, how does this number sound for an increase rate. Pretty high right? Now that we are able to harness the potential of the data and make a market value for it, our data resources are going to multiple by many folds in the coming few years.

Since 2013 when Data Science started to get a good hold in the market, it has seen an annual demand growth rate of around 30%, making it rise exponentially. With supply for qualified data scientists increasing at around 14%, there is a gap between demand and supply. This gap is the sweet spot that is targeted by the masses as they know its value.

Today it has become the buzz word of the IT sector with almost everybody trying their hands on it, thus making it a cut-throat market and so it is difficult to excel in the same.

What makes you a better candidate for a data science job that you applied for when compared to the other applicants next to you? Obviously the skills, right?

So what skills are we talking about when it comes to making a good data science portfolio? We’ll list the major of them below-

  1. Statistics (both theoretical and practical)
  2. At least one programming language such as R or Python
  3. Data Extraction
  4. Data Exploration
  5. Machine Learning algorithms
  6. Data Visualization

In this blog, we will be discussing the Data Visualisation factor and answer questions like why you should learn it, how you should learn it, what all can it do, etc.

Data Visualisation is known to be around from as long back as the late 1700’s when the line, bar and pie charts were invented that we use till date. With the advancement of resources and the development of our technology, we are now well equipped with a wide variety of data visualizations. and tools to perform the same.

Why data visualization is worth learning?

Data Visualisation gives us an edge when performing data analysis when compared to traditional manual type. Few of the major advantages that it offers are-

  1. Makes data easily understandable- Our human mind is well trained to make sense out of illustrations and graphs and so data when expressed in such forms is easily understood by people, even not so technically literate people can understand it, thus data tells the story by itself when represented visually.
  2. Facts, outliers, and trends pop out automatically- It becomes really easy to identify outliers and trends with graphs. We all must have seen the worm graph shown in movies where the sale trend is represented for better understanding, now imagine how hard it would have been to understand the same by just looking at the data
  3. Better decision making- When the data is understood well, better decisions are followed. People are able to think of better questions and scenarios to put on data and thus increase the efficiency of their work.

It is often said that good data visualization is like storytelling, there is no one perfect way to do it but based on who the ‘storyteller’ is it can be a hit or a miss.

If you know how to tell the ‘data story’ in an efficient way, you are definitely valued more than the other data scientists who fail to do so. Making people understand the problem case is as important as putting out a solution for it and so data visualization is one such skill that must be there up your sleeve.

How to start with it?

Now that we have discussed why one should understand the importance of data visualization, its time to know the how part. How can you learn it in the most efficient way possible?

We are here for your rescue and thus below are few points that you must consider to embark on your journey of becoming a data visualization expert-

  • Dig deep into MS Excel- Yes, you read that right. Most of us are unaware of the advanced features that MS Excel offer and the fact is they are totally worth spending time learning. You can go through this detailed article on how to start with the same and if it excites you well enough you can also take up this course from Coursera to master the Excel data visualization.
  • Using a data visualization tool- Today, most of the complex tasks are made easier by performing all the coding work in the backend and thus the user only requires to drag and drop the required elements and the work is done. One such easy to use tool for data visualization is Tableau. Developed in 2003, this tool is still high-in-demand in the professional world. It is very easy to use and packs in a lot of powerful features, it can be considered the best way to get into the data visualization field. For the starters, these video tutorials would be the best to go through. They will get you comfortable with the Tableau environment and the basics, later you may take up courses like these from platforms like Udemy for more advanced learning.

TIP- The Internet is a pool of resources and most of it is freely available if you know how to look for it. So the courses that we have mentioned here can also be used in such a way that you read the syllabus that they cover and then learn them individually for free over various other resources. Knowing what to learn solves the main problem in such cases.

  • Using libraries and wrappers- Programming languages mainly R and Python are supported by a ton of data visualization libraries and API wrappers, that allow users to customize the visualizations they want to every last bit.
    • For python language, these are the main libraries and wrappers available-
      • Matplotlib
      • Plotly
      • Seaborn
      • ggplot
      • Altair
    • For python language, these are the main libraries and wrappers available-
      • ggplot2
      • lattice
      • highcharter
      • leaflet
      • plotly

Using these mentioned above, you can plot almost every kind of visualization and start telling the ‘data story’ along with your code.

Concluding it all, we can say that data visualization is one of the most crucial skills that every data scientist/analyst must have in his/her arsenal. It is worth the time and effort invested that will give a good return for sure. With the potential and the value of big data as of today, data visualization act as a very crucial part to understand such massive amounts of data. To get an idea about big data, check out this blog.

Visualization gives you answers to questions you didn’t know you had


Ben Shneiderman

We hope that this article was able to make you understand the importance and the initial learning path of data visualization, for more such informative content do check out our other posts too.

 

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