1. Introduction to Visualization


Visualization is an important skill. To understand why, we’ll examine some examples of business visualizations in this course, and learn about the type of problems that can occur when creating visuals.

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  1. Lesson Goal (00:18)

    The goal of this lesson is to learn about the importance of good visualizations in business.

  2. Importance of Visualization (00:25)

    Visualization is an increasingly important business skill, and applications like tableau and Power BI have made visualization more accessible than ever. But the default settings of these applications may not create the best visuals, so understanding the underlying principles of data visualization will help you create the best possible charts.

  3. Potential Issues With Visuals (01:05)

    There are numerous possible issues that can arise if you create visualizations without adequately considering visualization principles. The examples we consider here are:

    • A stacked bar chart may contain so many segments that it’s impossible to easily identify which are smallest or largest.

    • A scatter plot containing various different shapes and symbols is difficult to interpret because of the number of points on the chart.

    • The effectiveness of a table can vary significantly depending on how the data is sorted and colored.

    • A large table of numbers may contain so much information that it’s impossible to process and understand at a glance.

  4. Course Overview (02:55)

    This course covers the following areas:

    • How people process visualizations

    • How visualization impacts businesses

    • The Visual Language Hierarchy

    • Applying the hierarchy in your company


Hello, and welcome to Kubicle's course on visual data thinking. Our aim in this course is to introduce a framework you can use to develop effective visualizations that will communicate important messages to other people.

In this first lesson, we'll learn about the importance of good visualizations in business.

Data visualization has become increasingly popular in recent times. Visualizations help explain the results of your data analysis in a way that's easy for anyone to understand. Visualization applications like Tableau or Power BI have made it easier than ever to create charts and dashboards quickly, even if you don't have a lot of technical expertise.

However, these applications can sometimes lead you astray. The default settings may not always create the best visuals and some knowledge of how to visualize data effectively is essential to creating charts that are as effective as possible.

To understand the importance of following best practice when creating visualizations, let's look at a few examples of visualizations that don't work. Here, we can see a chart that shows sales for various product categories in different regions, but which product and region combination has the highest sales? Well, it's almost impossible to know for sure. There are so many segments and so many different colors that it's very difficult to obtain any real insights from this chart.

Here, we can see a chart attempting to show sales and profits for various different regions.

It's tricky to identify which regions are performing best or worst because a number of symbols makes the chart difficult to interpret.

Sometimes, there are multiple ways of visualizing something. Here, we can see three different ways of showing profits for a number of different products, but which is best if we want to understand the range of product values? Number one isn't very good because the products are not shown in the order of profit. So we have to scan the table to find the highest and lowest values.

In number three, we still have to scan the table, but the color coding makes this process easier.

Number two is actually the best, as the profit values are ordered from highest to lowest. So we can identify the range of values with a quick glance.

Finally, let's consider this table showing monthly sales changes for various product categories. Clearly there's far too much information here.

Trying to identify any insights from this table is extremely difficult, if not impossible.

Clearly, there are many ways in which visualizations can go wrong. In our courses on this subject, we'll teach you how to fix problematic visuals like this and create better and more useful charts.

In this course, we'll start by learning how people process visualizations and how visualization impacts businesses. We'll then spend several lessons learning about the visual language hierarchy, a framework for creating effective visualizations. Finally, we'll learn how you can apply this hierarchy to your company, to achieve the best possible results.

We'll start in the next lesson by learning how our brain processes images.