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University of Colorado Boulder

Fundamentals of Data Visualization

University of Colorado Boulder via Coursera


Data is everywhere. Charts, graphs, and other types of information visualizations help people to make sense of this data. This course explores the design, development, and evaluation of such information visualizations. By combining aspects of design, computer graphics, HCI, and data science, you will gain hands-on experience with creating visualizations, using exploratory tools, and architecting data narratives. Topics include user-centered design, web-based visualization, data cognition and perception, and design evaluation.

This course can be taken for academic credit as part of CU Boulder’s MS in Data Science or MS in Computer Science degrees offered on the Coursera platform. These fully accredited graduate degrees offer targeted courses, short 8-week sessions, and pay-as-you-go tuition. Admission is based on performance in three preliminary courses, not academic history. CU degrees on Coursera are ideal for recent graduates or working professionals. Learn more:

MS in Data Science:

MS in Computer Science:


  • Basics of Design
    • In this module, you will learn the foundations of visualization design. You will walk through the key components of a visualization, how we effectively represent data using channels like color, size, and position, and some ground rules for honest and effective visualization. You will also gain preliminary exposure to Altair, a Python library for rapidly generating interactive visualizations. Each week will also include either two readings or one reading and one notebook activity.
  • User Needs
    • In this module, you will learn how to choose the right visualization for a given scenario. You will learn how to reason about the different kinds of questions people ask with visualization and, how to align your design with that task. The module will cover basics of task analysis, methods for task elicitation, and foundational knowledge of visual perception for design. Each week will also include two external readings or one reading and one notebook activity.
  • Evaluation
    • In this module, you will learn how to assess the effectiveness of your visualization. You will learn both qualitative and quantitative approaches for evaluating visualizations as well as how to isolate key elements for assessment and iteration. The module will cover basics of insight-based evaluation, interview studies, and experimental design and analysis. Each week will also include two external readings or one reading and one notebook activity.

Taught by

Danielle Szafir


4.7 rating at Coursera based on 22 ratings

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