One of the most useful tools available for presenting complicated material in an accessible way is data visualization. This rapidly evolving field is focused on using visual representations like graphs or charts to convey raw data. Presenting data in a visual manner makes it easier to understand and faster to process, even for those who aren’t mathematically inclined or trained in analytics. These visual representations of data aren’t just visually appealing, they also tell a story about the information, allowing audience members to spot outliers, notice trends, and see patterns emerge from data. Visually conveying points is a powerful way to leverage data in order to achieve a desired outcome.
There are many kinds of data visualizations, each of which serves a specific professional purpose. Some of the most popular techniques for conveying information are:
- Waterfall charts
- Area charts
- Scatter plots
- Pie charts
- Bar charts
- Box-and-whisker plots
- Heat maps
Because we live in an increasingly visual culture, those who know how to present information in visually engaging stories have the power not only to help make sense of past events but to offer predictions for the future as well.
History of Data Visualization
Although data visualization is a rapidly evolving field, the practice of using pictures to help an audience understand data has been around for several hundred years. Maps and graphs in the 1600s relied on data visualization techniques, as did the pie chart, which was invented in 1801. Even Napoleon’s first invasion of Russia was mapped using statistical graphics, which allowed viewers to form a more robust understanding of the correlation between the temperature, the time scales, and the path of Napoleon’s retreat from Moscow.
With the advent of computers, the field of data visualization changed drastically. Computers made it possible for huge amounts of data to be processed quickly and efficiently.
No longer is data visualization simply an art; it draws from art and science to weave a story that covers the who, what, when, where, and how, blurring the line between technical analysis and visual storytelling. In the current data-driven world, professional training and skill-sets are evolving to find better ways to work with data. Cognitive frameworks continue to evolve, and multifaceted imaging is now being used to explore vast data stores.
Benefits of Using Data Visualization
The human eye is drawn to patterns and colors. While it’s possible to use spreadsheets and reports to take in necessary information, our brains are better able to process that which is presented in a visual manner. In a manner of speaking, data visualization is one more form of visual art. This type of visual storytelling quickly draws us in, holds our attention, and allows us to engage with the content.
Using data visualization has many benefits. It:
- Allows viewers to spot areas that require improvement
- Provides a way to pinpoint variables that influence customer behavior
- Improves on product placement
- Identifies frequency patterns, such as how often a product is purchased in a given area
- Anticipates sales volumes
- Analyzes risks and addresses issues before they grow into problems
- Examines relationships between productivity and oversight
- Helps users implement a roadmap for future actions
Data visualization has applicability in many fields, which makes it one of the most useful and versatile professional skills. STEM fields in particular benefit from clear visual representations of data. Visual representations of complicated information are also used in fields like:
- Service industries
Top Tools & Languages for Data Visualization
Many powerful tools and languages are available to help transform data and numbers into stunning visual depictions of information:
- Microsoft Excel: A spreadsheet function that allows users to make calculations, work with graphic tools, and design PivotTables.
- Microsoft Power BI: A family of business intelligence (BI), data visualization, and reporting products used by individuals or teams to extract meaningful information from raw data.
- Python: A high-level, object-oriented programming language. This multipurpose language allows users to perform advanced data manipulations as well as numerical analysis by using data frames.
- Tableau: One of the leading tools for data visualization. Tableau enables even non-technical users to design customized dashboards and worksheets that present data in a clear and understandable manner.
- Zoho Analytics: A self-service data analytics and BI tool that allows users to work with data from many sources. Zoho can blend data and also design cross-functional dashboards and reports.
Data Visualization Careers
Many careers in data visualization are available for those who enjoy using their problem-solving and critical thinking skills to metamorphose raw data into visual stories. This quickly expanding field involves not just technical know-how, but communication skills as well. Those who have been trained to create data visualizations are often hired as Business Intelligence Analysts, Data Scientists, Data Engineers, and Quantitative Analysts, among others.
Salaries are typically high for those working with data visualizations. According to Payscale.com, data visualization professionals in the U.S. make approximately $77K a year. Pay rates in this field tend to increase with training. Entry-level Data Visualization Engineers make about $77K annually, whereas those with ten or more years of experience can expect a salary of $119K.
The Future of Data Visualization
The role data visualization plays in businesses continues to change and gain importance. As new technologies like augmented virtual reality emerge that deal with multidimensional imaging and intelligence, as well as new cognitive frameworks, large amounts of complex data can be visualized and presented in new and dynamic ways.
As more data becomes available on different platforms, new problems and considerations are expected for visualizing it. New departments will likely emerge in the future that will be devoted to finding additional methods for pre-processing, character recognition, and post-processing of visual information. In order to accomplish this, artificial intelligence, along with machine learning, is expected to be increasingly used by tech companies.
Hands-On Data Visualization Classes
Are you interested in learning more about how to create stunning and helpful data visualizations? If so, Noble Desktop offers Tableau classes that prepare students to work with this industry-standard data visualization software.
Data Analytics classes are open to students with no prior coding experience. These full-time and part-time courses are taught by top New York Data Analysts and provide timely and hands-on training for those wishing to learn more about topics like Python, SQL, Excel, or data science, among others. In addition, Noble’s live online Data Visualization courses are designed for students who prefer learning in the virtual format.
For those who are passionate about working with data and are looking for an intensive educational experience, Noble’s Power BI Bootcamp is a great option. This six-hour class provides an overview of the capabilities of Power BI, such as how to query data using Power Query and how to connect datasets via Power BI’s data model. Enrolling in a bootcamp provides the first step toward a high-paying career working with big data.
Noble Desktop’s Classes Near Me tool is designed for those who want to locate other data visualization courses in the area. These courses provide training for those who are new to working with data, as well as those with prior experience who hope to perfect their data visualization skills.