There’s a part of me that detests data visualization.
There’s nothing wrong with it. In fact it’s a part of this job and profoundly important to communication.
It just gets annoying dressing up my beautiful data so that some fool understand it; or should I say - LOOKS at it.
Here you go sir, here’s some important data that could significantly affect the future of your company (hand puppet on), and lookit sweety, it’s dressed up with the Diamond Steel Sunset palette. Now you're interested right?
Who wipes your poopy for you?
If you’ve ever traveled across America (and you bloody should, it's bloody amazing) and are somewhat literate you must have come across that USA Today rag. The one that gets lovingly comped right next to the waffle maker first thing in the morning.
USA Today are the kings of deep data visualization featuring anything from Illegal Arms Sales in Africa to What Nation Eats the Most Pasta.
I love these visualizations. I'm not being sarcastic, they are genuinely very fun to pour over when you're nursing a hangover with a hot cup of brewed swill.
However they do provide a lesson; you can make data look like anything if you douse it in enough symmetry, carbohydrates or glam.
Python, (segue-way) is packed with enough visualization tools to make any product manager swoon. So much, in fact, that I’m somewhat overwhelmed. Here is a quick list of some that I’ve been messing with.
Native. It comes with your Python distro even if you downloaded it in 2001 during the Cuban missile crisis. It’s definitely not the prettiest, but it works great when you (a real engineer) need to know some quick answers.
Not quite native, but easily installed. (plus, you should probably have Pandas included in any data problem anyway). Ascetically it's a step up from matplotlib and is pretty easy to implement. There are a tonne of tutorials and examples online.
Definitely the cutest of them all so far, and ridiculously simple to use. In fact I strongly suggest checking out the Seaborn Examples Gallery. It's rammed with visualization examples and all the code you'll need to make them happen.
Don't forget R. I kind of have and I’m still not a massive fan, but the language does support all of your bog-standard plots. I find it trickier to use than the Python alternatives, but I also thought goats were female sheep.
I’m not going to tackle Tableau right now; that would just continue my medicated rant... We'll save that for another time my pretties.