Regardless of what field you work in, there may come a time when you’ll have to convey a large amount of information to clients who may not be experts in your industry. To deal with this challenge, you have a few options.
You could ask your clients to simply view the data in an Excel spreadsheet and walk them through the information. But this is a very time-consuming process and can involve a lot of meetings and explanations. As an alternative, you can use data visualization software like Tableau, and let the data speak for itself.
In this guide, we’ll explain Tableau software in more detail, how professionals use it, and how you can get on your way to becoming a data visualization expert.
What Is Tableau?
Tableau is an analytics platform designed for publicly sharing and exploring data visualizations online. Data visualization is the process of making large data sets more digestible. By simplifying data into charts and graphs, Tableau makes it easier for consumers and clients to grasp information.
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You’ve probably made graphs on a computer before, so you know there are several options for how data can be displayed visually. Where Tableau differs from other data visualization options is in its ability to connect with other users, like those using G Suite apps.
Once you’ve got a handle on the platform, all you have to do is drop an Excel or Google Sheets file into Tableau and select your preferred graphic options. Then, the program will do the rest of the work for you. You may also want to peruse the Tableau gallery to search for inspiration and bounce ideas off of others in the Tableau visualization community.
Best of all, there is a free option of this software, called Tableau Public, to help you get started.
The ability to analyze, comprehend, and visualize data with Tableau can come in handy in many industries, and can also give you a boost during job interviews.
What Is Tableau Used For?
Data visualization has many uses in both internal and external communication. You may be surprised at how often this skill will come in handy. Understanding data is essential to a successful business, and Tableau offers many options for creating visual analytics.
- Product comparison for consumers. Business owners, especially in the tech field, are always on the lookout for ways to set their products apart from the competition. Utilizing an interesting data visualization could make all the difference in getting consumers interested in your product.
- Data analytics. There are many instances in which raw information is simply not easy to understand. Tableau will allow you to take raw information, such as the temperature readings of different tech components, and display it as a comparison over time.
After this data has been made more visually appealing, it will be easier to make decisions about the future uses of a product. Data analysts can also rest easier knowing that they can easily come back to a project and quickly get up to speed on data collected in the past.
- Journalistic context. For journalists, data visualization software offers a new way to present facts and figures in an exciting, interactive, and informative way. Delivering data in an entertaining way will make a story more engaging and keep the reader hooked.
When it comes to mastering Tableau, the Internet has made it easy. The company offers great resources for learning the basics of its software on its website.
You can study these Tableau guides one at a time, and before you know it, you’ll be creating amazing data visualizations.
How Long Does It Take to Learn Tableau?
There are about an hour and 45 minutes of video lessons on the Tableau website about the company’s free service, called Tableau Public. After you get the hang of the basics of Tableau, you should continue studying to learn the advanced techniques.
The amount of time it takes to learn Tableau depends on how comfortable you are with data visualization when you begin. You should be able to grasp the system in anywhere from a couple of days to around six months, depending on which specific skills you want to learn.
How to Learn Tableau: Step-by-Step
When choosing which version you want to download, keep in mind that only the paid versions of the software come with the desktop app version Tableau Desktop. This version streamlines the work process by allowing you to work offline.
- Create an account. Signing up for any version of Tableau is easy. To get Tableau Public, just click the sign-up button at the top right of the homepage. For the paid version of Tableau, you can either sign up for a 14-day free trial or just go straight for the paid subscription.
- Study the resources. There are specific free courses for learning Tableau Public. So the resources you use depends on which version of the software you have downloaded.
- Interact with the community. Even though you may be able to grasp the basics of the software on your own, it’s always good to learn from experienced users. Whether you’re still taking a beginners’ lesson, or are trying to learn advanced tricks to make your visualizations pop, there is probably someone online who can help you out.
- Get familiar with data visualization. Though there is plenty of Tableau training available on the company’s site, it may benefit you to take separate data visualization courses online.
The Best Tableau Courses and Training
We’ve already discussed the online training offered by Tableau, but for studying general data visualization, there are plenty of third party courses available online.
Best Online Tableau Courses
Most of the data visualization skills you’ll learn in Tableau will be transferable to other programs. Below are some courses to get you started learning this software, as well as some general courses on data visualization.
- Name: Tableau for Beginners: Get CA Certified, Grow Your Career
- Time: 6 Hours
- Prerequisites: None
- Price: $39.99
This course is a great introduction to how to create a data-driven visual experience. It will teach you a few more advanced techniques of Tableau that are not covered on the company’s website. It includes topics on graphing, simple charts, and trends.
There are no prerequisites to join the course, though it will be easier if you learn a bit about Excel before starting.
- Name: Beautify your Data: Intro to Data Visualization Using Tableau
- Time: 1 Hour
- Prerequisites: None
- Price: Seven-day free trial / $99 annual membership
This quick course offers an introduction to Tableau for absolute beginners. As the course description notes, expertise in Tableau can impress potential employers and open up new possibilities for business owners. You will learn the basics of Tableau at your own pace with this step-by-step guide.
This course is mostly focused on teaching how to layout a dashboard. By the time you have completed the course, you should have a good grasp of the software.
Best Free Tableau Courses
Luckily, Tableau is among the software that has both free and paid online learning options. Below are some of the courses that can help you start learning the program without taking a toll on your wallet.
UC Davis – Coursera
- Name: Data Visualization with Tableau Specialization
- Time: 6 Months
- Prerequisites: None
- Price: Free
This course from UC Davis is loaded with content. The lessons are designed for students who have no previous experience with Tableau and little to no experience with data visualization.
Over six months, you’ll go from beginner to pro by learning the fundamentals of Tableau, design principles, visual analytics, and the process of storytelling on the platform.
Many paid courses don’t offer this amount of quality information. Since the course is offered in partnership with Tableau, you can be sure that all of the coursework is verified.
Rochester Institute of Technology – EdX
- Name: Data Representation and Visualization in Tableau
- Time: 4 weeks
- Prerequisites: None
- Price: Free
The Rochester Institute of Technology states in its course description that it expects demand for Tableau skills to rise by 35 percent in the next 10 years. You’ll have a leg up on other job applicants if you complete this in-depth course.
This RITx program covers all the basic uses of the software in addition to common errors that beginners and professionals face with the software. Over the four week study period, you’ll pick up a couple of key skills. You’ll learn how to create beautiful interpretations of data, and how to become a master at interpreting data.
Should You Study Tableau?
Tableau offers a way to drag and drop your complicated data into a format that makes it easy to understand.
As mentioned above, the market for data visualization is growing constantly. Over the next few years, the global job market will face a lot of uncertainty due to COVID-19. Regardless, one thing is for certain: The amount of data being generated will continue to grow.
Next year, more employees may be working remotely, and companies will continue their pivot toward using the Internet to bring in new customers. With the growing need to seamlessly convey company data to a large number of employees, there’s never been a better time to jump into data visualization.
Tableau offers a wealth of resources and ease of use that’s hard to beat. Plus, with so many avenues available to help you master the software online, there’s little reason not to learn Tableau.
By studying Tableau, you’ll have an advantage over other businesses and individuals when it comes to creating attractive data visuals.
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