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When droplets of the cloud are words, the clouds begin to talk!

What is the word cloud?

Words are a medium of expression! When you are able to add more dimensions to the meaning of these words it becomes even more expressive. And does this not help create a meaningful impression for the rest of the world?


When the textual, data which is qualitative, is manifested to express its quantitative/trendline aspects as well it begins to form a word cloud.


A word cloud is a group of multiple words which are colored differently, also the size of the words is varied, and are placed jumbled with an intent to convey some statistical insights to the onlooker. Certain words come across to be brighter, while some are bolder. These are the features of the word cloud.


The data received or present in many a case are plain textual data. The word cloud can be used to analyze this raw data in the form of text for meaningful visualization or business insights.

Why is the word cloud?

Our eyes and brain better perceive data when given a visual effect. Hence, the raw data in the text format can be analyzed and represented pictographically in the form of graphs, charts, and infographics. The data could be from a set of paragraphs of information, taken from someone's conversation, polled information collected, or from a database.


Here is a picture of the word cloud created by our team for a presentation of our Python Hackathon. We used 13 libraries, 78 functions, and 16 charts or plots during the python Hackathon. These we thought would be represented by a word map, rather than listing them out conventional manner. And sure, it is a better mode of presentation.



Another example would be, where an organization is collecting feedback. The amount of data collected is a lot. But when it is showcased as a word cloud. It is easy to get to the crux of the matter and address it as required.


I would also like to share another experience of mine, where the word cloud is the hero. Here is a picture below from my physical therapy office this morning. They have this word cloud painted on the main wall right in the center. Now for me, I find it so meaningful and the theme of their business strongly connects to me. The words used in the painting, how they are sized and the colors used for the words all reciprocate quite some information which is grasped easily. I find this to be a value addition.





PS: The picture is courtesy of Cory and Buehler's physical therapy.


Here is another scenario I would like to put forth. Now we have data that mentions the amounts of discounts given out based on the states. And this data is in the form of text as shown below.



The same information when given out in this way does it not tell and convey much more effectively and explicitly? I am sure one would like to view it this way. So, shall see how to create this word cloud using Tableau in the sessions below.


Therefore, I feel word cloud is very helpful :

  • To represent text data with a visual effect that is catchy/conveys the bottom line summary.

  • To connect with the theme of the business.

  • A cost-effective way of conveying key details quickly and effectively.

  • The crux of the matter is uplifted which leverages quick action/decision.

  • Used in varied fields, businesses, or by clients as per their requirements.

  • Strategy to market statistical data not the boring numbers way. A good approach to value addition.

Why not the word cloud?

Not all data can be represented well in a word cloud : a Word cloud can show the relation between 2 parameters, as to how they can be related. When there are many parameters, that come in to picture, the word cloud is not of much use. For example, we are trying to visualize no of cars sold, which are electric, hybrid, and gas version across 3 different brands. In such a scenario, word cloud definitely cannot be a choice. We could see that in the multi-bar chart.

If not specific data : Word cloud also can not be used if the data that we have is not specific. That is word cloud cannot work on data that is not reformed.


How is the word cloud?

“Words are containers for power, you choose what kind of power they carry”, said Joyce Meyer. Hereby making a word cloud lets us try to explore the analytics information contained in these words. Now, let us see how we can make a word cloud in Tableau.


Below are the steps in creating a word cloud:


(The dataset from the superstore has been considered here)


Step 1 : Connect to a dataset on tableau public by clicking on Data -> New Data Source->Microsoft Excel -> Choose the dataset you want to work on (Super Store dataset is used here) -> Click ok.



Step 2 : Drag and drop the tables of interest and establish the relationship between them as required based on the primary key, and foreign key relationships between them, on the Data Source tab.




Step 3 : Add a worksheet to work on. It would be a good practice to change the name of the worksheet to suit the topic you are working with.





Step 4 : On the Data tab, select the State field from the Tables and drag it on to Text under the Marks.






Step 5 : Again, select the State field from the Tables and drag it on to Color under the Marks.




Step 6 : From the dropdown where it has automatic under the Marks, select the Text for the chart. Now drag the field Discounts from the Tables on the left-hand side to the Size under the Marks. And there you go the word cloud is ready.




The different states are displayed in different colors and are reflected in the menu on the right side. The size of the words(states) will depict the amounts of discounts given on products in the particular states. Now is this not much luring for a person looking at the word cloud to know which state gives the most discount in this manner? Such powerful is the data visualization, in conveying and expressing certain information, and here we saw how a word cloud is put to use.


I hope, you enjoyed creating the word cloud!

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