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Data analysis methods and techniques

By Academy Xi

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Are you new to data analysis and keen to find out what makes the industry tick? Read on to discover the methods and techniques that are the driving force behind one of the world’s fastest growing professions.


What is data analysis?

Data analysis is the process of organising, cleaning and examining raw data in order to draw conclusions and create meaningful solutions. In short, it’s about making sense of data to make well-informed, real-life decisions.

Data Analysts sit at the intersection of business, technology and statistics. With the primary goal of increasing efficiency and improving performance, Data Analysts discover patterns in data and make strategic recommendations.

Why is data analysis important?

Many businesses have a wealth of raw data at their fingertips, but data that sits untouched in a spreadsheet is of minimal value and translating it into actionable insights is easier said than done.

Data analytics helps a business tap into a vital resource and better understand its products, customers and competitors, as well as its own operational procedures and capabilities.

Armed with the knowledge data analysis brings about, businesses are able to identify inefficiencies and opportunities. Because data is not an opinion or a theory, it can act as an impartial source of truth when making important business decisions.

What is customer analytics?

Customer analytics is the process of collecting and analysing customer data to gain insights toward customer behaviour. Customer analytics helps businesses make smarter decisions that build stronger connections with customers.

Companies use customer analytics to develop customer-centric business strategies related to marketing, product development, sales, and more. This could include planning your entire customer journey, or building personalised marketing campaigns.

What is the data analysis process?

The data analysis process can be broken down into a few simple steps:


✔️ Step 1: Identify – The first step is to define the problem you’re trying to solve and figure out what kind of data is likely to help you find that solution. 

✔️ Step 2: Collect – Now that you know what data you’re after, your next job is to collect it. Data might be extracted internally, or gathered from external sources. 

✔️ Step 3: Clean – Before it can be analysed, data needs to be cleaned. This involves removing any erroneous information that will distort your results, also known as ‘dirty data’. 

✔️ Step 4: Analyse – With your data cleaned and prepped, it’s time to get down to the all-important analysis. There are a range of tried-and-trusted analytical techniques and approaches, some of which we’ll unpack in a little while. 

✔️ Step 5: Interpret – Now you’ve analysed your data, you should be able to interpret the findings in relation to your original problem. This will allow you to make a data-backed recommendation to the relevant stakeholders. 

Essential types of data analysis

Here’s a list of definitions for the most important types of data analysis:  

  • Exploratory – ‘How should I use the data?’

Exploratory data analysis (EDA) techniques are used by Data Analysts to investigate data sets and summarise their main characteristics, often employing data visualisation methods. 

This helps determine how best to manipulate data sources to get the answers you need, making it easier for Data Analysts to discover patterns, spot anomalies, test a hypothesis, or check any underlying assumptions.

  • Descriptive – ‘What happened?’

Descriptive analytics is a simple, surface-level form of data analysis that clarifies what has happened in the past. This involves using data aggregation and data mining techniques. 

For instance, a company that monitors its website traffic might mine that data and find a day when the number of visitors dipped dramatically.

  • Diagnostic – ‘Why did it happen?’

Once an anomaly has been identified, a Data Analyst will then look at additional data sources which might tell them why this occurred. The analyst is searching for causal relationships within the data, which could mean using probability theory, regression analysis, filtering, or time series analytics. 

Following our example, the Data Analyst might consult data about the company’s day-by-day advertising spend and discover that certain advertising channels were switched off on the day the website traffic decreased. 

  • Predictive – ‘What is likely to happen?’

This is when Data Analysts start to come up with data-driven insights that a company can act on. Predictive analytics estimates the likelihood of a future outcome based on historical data and probability theory. 

While predictive analytics can never be completely accurate, it does eliminate the guesswork from making crucial business decisions.

Using the example above, the Data Analyst could make a reasonable prediction that temporary reductions in advertising spend are likely to yield a short-term drop in website traffic.

  • Prescriptive – ‘What’s the best course of action?’

Prescriptive analytics advises a business on which course of action to take and aims to take advantage of any predicted outcomes. 

When conducting prescriptive analysis, Data Analysts will consider a range of possible scenarios and assess the consequences of different decisions and actions. As one of the more complex forms of analysis, this may involve working with algorithms and machine learning. 

Using our example, the Data Analyst might recommend that the business maintains a more even day-by-day advertising spend in order to generate consistent levels of website traffic.   

  • Inferential – ‘What are the larger implications?’

When conducting people-focused data analysis, you can normally only acquire data from a sample group, because it’s too difficult or expensive to collect data from the whole population you’re interested in.

While descriptive statistics can only summarise a sample’s characteristics, inferential statistics use your sample to make reasonable guesses about the larger population. Though data might have been collected from a hundred people, you could use inferential statistics to make predictions about millions of people.  

With inferential statistics, it’s important to use random and unbiased sampling methods. If your sample isn’t representative of your population, then you can’t draw large-scale conclusions.

Types of data analysis methods

Here’s a simple breakdown of the most popular and useful methods that modern Data Analysts rely on:  

Cluster analysis

This is an analysis method whereby a set of objects or data points with similar characteristics are grouped together in clusters. The aim of cluster analysis is to organise observed data into meaningful structures in order to make it easier to gain further insight from them.

Cohort analysis

This is a form of behavioural analytics that breaks data (normally attached to people) into related groups before analysis. These groups, or cohorts, will share common characteristics and experiences. 

Cohort analysis allows a business to see patterns within the life-cycle of a customer, rather than analysing all customers without accounting for their position in a customer journey.

Regression analysis

This method enables analysts to accurately identify which variables impact a data set of interest. It helps analysts confidently determine which factors matter most and which can be ignored, as well as how certain factors influence each other.

To give a very simple example, a person’s weight will definitely increase as their height increases. Analysts look for these kinds of causal relationships between statistics because they clarify how one factor will affect another, making outcomes predictable.

Neural networks

Used in machine and deep learning, neural networks are a series of algorithms that replicate the neuro functions of the human brain. Each of these neurons:

  • Receives data from the input layer
  • Processes it by performing calculations 
  • Transmits the processed data to another neuron

How data moves between neurons within a network and the calculations performed will depend on what data findings are uncovered along the way. Though a neural network makes decisions about what to do with data all by itself, it first needs to be trained with data inputs.

IBM Watson is powered by 2800 processor cores and 15 terabytes of memory. Its neural network was trained over a period of two years, as millions of pages of patient records, medical journals and other documents were uploaded to the system. IBM Watson is used to accurately diagnose rare illnesses and diseases.  

Time series analysis

This method involves analysing a sequence of data points collected over an interval of time. In time series analysis, analysts record data points at consistent intervals over a set period of time, as opposed to recording data points intermittently or randomly. 

The advantage this offers over other methods is that the analysis can show how variables change over time. In other words, time is a crucial variable because it shows how the data evolves over the course of its life cycle, rather than just focusing on the end results. 

How can I become a Data Analyst?

Want to learn more about all things Data Analytics?

Academy Xi has a proven track record of helping people boost their skillset and revamp their role with Data Analytics, or even launch a completely new career as a Data Analyst.

We offer a range of courses built and taught by industry experts that are specially designed to suit your ambitions and lifestyle:

  • Harness the power of data in your career even as a non-data professional by upskilling with our Data Analytics: Elevate course.
  • Change careers with our Data Analytics: Transform course and get access to a Career Support Program that helps 97% of graduates straight into the industry.

If you have any questions or want to discuss your career prospects, speak to a course advisor and take the first steps in your Data Analytics journey.

Market Update Industrial Designer demand and salaries Australia 2022

Academy Xi Blog

Market Update: Industrial Designer demand and salaries Australia 2022

By Academy Xi

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Market Update Industrial Designer demand and salaries Australia 2022

Designing anything and everything from cars and devices to services is all in a day’s work for Industrial Designers. Let’s take a peek at the industry and demand in Australia and discover which training will set you on the right path.

What is industrial design?

As defined by the dictionary:


The art or process of designing manufactured products. “The scale is a beautiful work of industrial design”.

The World Design Organisation, based out of Canada, has created what they refer to as a ‘renewed’ definition of industrial design, as follows:

Industrial Design is a strategic problem-solving process that drives innovation, builds business success, and leads to a better quality of life through innovative products, systems, services, and experiences.

What do Industrial Designers do?

In a regular working day an Industrial Designer could be involved in several tasks and duties, including but not limited to:

  • Interpreting design briefs and providing production resource estimates
  • Researching and analysing potential product ideas, functions and marketplace requirements
  • Creating prototypes, sketches or samples to present to stakeholders
  • Developing design concepts using CAD (computer aided design) software
  • Working with manufacturers, engineers and product teams to refine designs
  • Presenting designs to clients, taking feedback and integrating modifications

Which industries hire Industrial Designers?

A diverse range of sectors require Industrial Designers in Australia, with the main industries being:

Main Industrial Design industries Source: Labour Market Insights Australia

How much do industrial designers earn in Australia?

The average annual salary for Industrial Designer jobs in Australia is $71,380, with the average for junior designers coming in at $61,250. Senior Industrial Designer salaries hit $114,000 and up, with earning capacity varying depending on the organisation and the specific experience of the designer.

Can you start a freelance industrial design business?

It is entirely possible to be a freelance or consultant Industrial Designer, however, it is recommended that you take in-house positions early on in your career for several reasons. Firstly, industry experience is paramount as it will expose you to the myriad of situations you can encounter as an Industrial Designer. It is this experience that will strengthen your freelance career later on and also expand your professional network, which can be vital in securing contracts. 

How much can a freelance Industrial Designer make in Australia?

The rates you charge as a freelance Industrial Designer will ideally reflect your level of skill and experience. If you specialise in any particular area of design, this could enable you to charge more if that skill is of extra importance on a project. Equally, the industry you niche in can influence the rate you set. Have a look at what freelance industrial designers are charging to get a guideline.

What skills are needed for industrial design?

A diverse range of skills is required for any designer to succeed, with industrial design being no different. Ideally, Industrial Designers are capable of balancing logical thinking and creative output. We’ve rounded up the top three for both soft and hard skills needed by Industrial Designers.

Top 3 soft skills for industrial designers

#1 Collaboration 

Teamwork makes the dream work and is vital for any Industrial Designer wanting to be successful in their role and long term career. As a designer you will be required to liaise with, work beside and present to stakeholders from various departments and external organisations. Effective communication and collaboration is incredibly important. 

#2 Problem solving

While this skill can be helpful in any job and in life generally, Industrial Designers can greatly benefit from being top shelf problem solvers, as their work regularly includes complexity and technical aspects which require analysis and resolution.

#3 Time management 

Industrial Designers will often work across several tasks and projects concurrently, often with competing deadlines. Being able to manage your time effectively is paramount.

Top 3 hard skills for industrial designers

#1 Prototyping 

Being able to take an idea from the page to a digital format to capture a ‘draft’ of the final product is known as prototyping. It’s an integral skill to possess as an Industrial Designer as it can enable user testing and further refinement of a design.

#2 Computer aided design (CAD)

CAD skills enable designers to create a 3D version of their idea from a 2D drawing, which increases their productivity and improves the quality of the design. Used by everyone from architects to engineers, this approach to digital modelling can truly bring an idea to life, which can assist in getting buy-in from stakeholders in early stages of a project.

#3 Adobe Photoshop

Knowing your way around the Adobe suite is generally a must have for your tool kit, particularly Photoshop. Initial sketches can be done in Photoshop, so you can then present your design proposals in a digitised format.

How to start a career in industrial design

At Academy Xi, we offer flexible study options in Graphic Design that will suit your lifestyle and training needs, giving you the perfect foundation for your future in industrial design. 

Whether you’re looking to upskill or entirely transform your career path, we have industry designed training to provide you with the practical skills and experience needed.

Career change? Take a look at our Transform options. 

Upskilling? Elevate courses are for you.

If you have any questions, our experienced team is here to discuss your training options. Speak to a course advisor and take the first steps in your industrial design journey.


Academy Xi Blog

How to use a colour wheel to choose colours

By Academy Xi

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Colours can influence thinking, impact mood and guide decision making. It’s no surprise they play such a vital role in design. Read on to discover how the colour wheel is used for design work.


What is a colour wheel?

Sometimes referred to as a colour circle, the colour wheel is a visual organisation of colour hues that shows the chromatic relationship of colours to each other, with every hue placed in order of wavelength. 

How many colours are in the colour wheel?

Generally you will find that colour wheels include three primary colours, three secondary colours and then the six colours that are created when a primary and secondary colour is combined, which are called tertiary colours. This takes our colour wheel to a total of 12 colours. There are, however, other wheels that will include more combinations of primary and secondary mixing creating a total of 24 colours.

What is colour theory?

The foundation of guidelines for colour when used to create anything visual is known as colour theory. Knowing the rules enables you to create colour palettes that resonate effectively within the design work you are creating.

Primary colours, secondary colours and tertiary colours

Roll up your sleeves, get your art smocks on and cast your mind back to school art class…

Primary colours

The basis for all colour creation, primary colours cannot be created with a combination of any other colours. The three primary colours are:

  • red
  • yellow
  • blue

Primary colours provide a strong base for any design and are a jumping off point for exploration into other shades, tones and tints. It’s also possible to use other strong colours as the framework for your design – it doesn’t necessarily need to be a primary colour, but will often be the case.

Secondary colours

So let’s talk about secondary colours. They are created when any two of the primary colours are combined, as follows:

  • Yellow and blue = green
  • Blue and red = purple
  • Red and yellow = orange

Tertiary colours

When you combine a primary and secondary colour together, you will get what is called a tertiary colour. The thing is, you won’t get a great tertiary colour with every primary/secondary combination – some of the mixtures will be brown-ish (and hey, you might be after that colour, so go for it if that’s the case!). 

This is where your trusty colour wheel comes in handy, as tertiary colours can be created when you mix a primary colour with a secondary colour that sits beside it on the colour wheel. Six tertiary colours tick this box:

  • Yellow and green = yellow-green (chartreuse)
  • Yellow and orange = yellow-orange (amber)
  • Blue and green = blue-green (teal)
  • Blue and purple = blue-purple (violet)
  • Red and orange = red-orange (vermillion)
  • Red and purple = red-purple (magenta)

What are the seven colour schemes?

In the world of colour and design there are seven major colour schemes. Let’s take a look at each scheme:

#1 Monochromatic colour scheme

A single colour (mono) with all of its associated shades and tints is included in a monochromatic colour scheme, which creates a unified visual feel. The intensity of the colours, in terms of darkness or lightness, can be easily shifted and this approach provides a clean design, which is understated, simple and elegant.

Monochromatic colour scheme infographic

Feeling like just one colour might be limited for a design? Take a look at primary colour blue and all of the shades, tones and tints that are associated and you might change your mind.

Blue monochromatic colour scheme infographic

#2 Analogous colour scheme

Back to the trusty colour wheel and you’ll find that analogous colour schemes are created by partnering a main colour with the next two colours beside it. If you want to go for a five-colour scheme instead of only three colour, add on the two beside the outside colours. 

Analogous colour scheme

The analogous scheme delivers a softer, lower contrast and would be more likely found in image design where a bold contrast isn’t required. 

#3 Complementary colour scheme

Using two colours that sit directly opposite each other on the colour wheel, along with the associated tints of those colours, will give you a complementary colour scheme. This approach is to be used carefully as it will create a great amount of contrast. High contrast can be effective and impactful with charts and graphs, but might be overbearing if used throughout an entire design approach. Try to only use complementary colour schemes when highlighting key information – unless your design calls for high contrast of course!

#4 Split complementary colour scheme

Take a single colour on the wheel, look directly across to its complementary colour, then select the two colours either side of this complementary colour and you’ve got yourself a split complementary colour scheme. 

Split complementary colour scheme

With this scheme you can get great contrast with any two of the colours, but like complementary colour schemes, it can be very bold and too high contrast, so requires some consideration. 

#5 Triadic colour scheme

High contrast strikes again with the triadic colour scheme. Choose three colours that are equally distanced in lines around your colour wheel. You can select one of the colours to be the dominant one in your design, then perhaps soften the others with a softer tint. Using them all at full intensity could be overpowering. 

Triadic colour scheme

#6 Square colour scheme

Create a square (or diamond) on your colour wheel, and similarly to the triadic scheme, you will get a square scheme. Choosing one colour as the dominant is again advised and making the others background players will balance things out. Try each colour as the dominant to see which combination works for your design. 

#7 Rectangle colour scheme

Similar to the square scheme, the rectangle creates a slightly more subtle outcome. Two colours will be more bold, with the opposite side of the wheel providing more muted options.

Rectangle colour scheme

How to choose the right colour scheme

Always place the end-user at the centre of your design approach. What is the purpose of the design you are going to create? What action or feeling are you aiming for the user to take or experience? 

With these considerations in mind, approach your design while also being mindful of the user interaction. If bold and highly contrasting colours dominate and distract, they might not be able to easily engage with the interface (with online design, for example).

Create your design with multiple colour options and if possible, run some user testing to gain feedback on user experience. It could also be a good idea to look at other design work with a similar objective to see which colour schemes were used and how impactful or effective they are.

Keep your colour wheel handy!

How to get into Graphic Design

Academy Xi offers a range of courses that will equip you with all theory and practical skills needed to flourish in today’s design industries.

Want to combine business objectives and creativity to craft stunning visual assets that resolve a brand’s biggest challenges? 

Change careers with our Graphic Design: Transform course: 

  • Get to grips with the full suite of Adobe apps and build a stand-out portfolio. 
  • Join a Career Support Program that helps 97% of graduates land their dream role, with tailored job search, resume and interview advice. 

Upskill and develop in-demand skills with our Graphic Design: Elevate course: 

  • Learn the theory of Graphic Design and put it into practice with hands-on projects.  
  • Build a unique portfolio with a range of digital design assets.
  • Elevate courses come in two flexible options – part-time, or self-paced.

If you have any questions, our experienced team is here to discuss your training options. Speak to a course advisor and take the first steps in your Design journey.

Academy Xi's guide on affiliate marketing

Academy Xi Blog

What is affiliate marketing and how do affiliates make money?

By Academy Xi

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Interested in exploring ways to earn money online? With 83% of marketers using affiliate marketing to raise brand recognition, there’s no sign of the approach waning any time soon. Swot up on the details of what’s involved and how you can get amongst it.

Academy Xi's guide on affiliate marketing

What is affiliate marketing?

Essentially, affiliate marketing is a referral arrangement between a company offering services and/or products and affiliated third parties. The referrals generally take place between online platforms via unique links, with the affiliates being compensated for promoting the company offerings.

How do affiliate marketers make money?

If you create content that includes links to external providers’ products and services and those links are clicked on and actioned by your site visitors, you can receive a payment from the company in the form of a commission. Depending on the agreement between you as the affiliate and the company, you might receive commission for actual sales that came through via your links, or purely for generating more traffic to the company website.

Common ways to get paid via affiliate marketing:

  • Pay per sale: A literal sale is processed as a direct result of the affiliate link 
  • Pay per lead: Persuasion of consumer to complete an action, which generates a lead
  • Pay per click: Every visit to company site directed there via an affiliate link
  • Pay per install: Each time a user installs an app or software via an affiliate link

Types of affiliate programs

There are three main types of affiliate marketing:

  • Unattached 
  • Related 
  • Involved 

Unattached affiliate marketing

In this approach the affiliate has no connection to the product or service they are linking to. The affiliate doesn’t have any related skills or experience and therefore isn’t an authority or able to make any claims about the product or service they’re linking to. They aren’t recommending or advising their site visitors to click through to the company.

Related affiliate marketing

With related affiliate marketing, affiliates have a connection to the product or service they are linking to. The affiliate likely has influence with site visitors and has expertise to generate traffic and they’re likely viewed as a trusted source of information. It’s important to note that the affiliate in this instance doesn’t make any claims about the use of the products or services included via the links. 

Involved affiliate marketing

In this case, an established connection has been achieved between the affiliate and the products or services they are linking to. They’ve probably used the product or service and have first-hand experience of it and are sharing the link because they’re wanting to openly promote what’s on offer based on their positive encounter or outcome. 

The affiliate is using their experience as an advertisement for the company’s offering, however, the affiliate needs to be mindful of what they associate themselves with directly, because they are viewed as a trustworthy source of information. Should the affiliated link lead to a negative experience for someone, this could result in reputational damage for the affiliate. For this reason, it’s not a bad idea to include a disclaimer of sorts to cover your back. 

How to start affiliate marketing and make money

We’ve rounded up some essential steps to get your affiliate marketing dreams into full flight.

Step 1: Create a content-rich website

Step 1: Create a content rich website

Once you’ve selected your niche and registered your domain, it’s time to set up your website and then pump it full of quality content. The better the read and the more shareable your material, the more traffic you will get to your site. Keep the content coming, with regular updates on topics that your target audience wants to read about.

Step 2: Get targeted traffic from Google

There are several ways you can get targeted traffic from Google, including:

  • Running paid search ads, as well as targeted and re-targeted social media campaigns
  • Optimising your website for mobile traffic
  • Ensuring your site is search engine optimised (SEO)
  • Continually creating and uploading quality content (preferably including SEO keywords)

Step 3: Promote products in your niche

Step 3: Promote products in your niche

With your quality content and traffic increase, it’s time to start promoting products within your selected niche to your target market audience. Affiliate links are needed for these products and services, along with a clear disclaimer that you use affiliate links within your website.

Step 4: Promote products that offer high affiliate commissions

Step 4: Promote products that offer high affiliate commissions

Be on the lookout for products and services that compensate you as the affiliate with a higher commission rate. Partnering with these guys will see your earning capacity increase much faster than mucking about with the lowest rates on the affiliate market. Just be mindful to only promote products and services that resonate with your website target market.

Other ways to make money online

Combining the social media influencer life with affiliate marketing could be a hot ticket, or shifting over into the world of freelancing can also see you earning coin online. Remember, these can be part-time ventures while you work your day job. Once things pick up and become more sustainable, you can consider jumping ship and working online, freelance, to replace your day job. The sky’s the limit!

How to get into affiliate marketing

At Academy Xi, we offer flexible study options in Digital Marketing and Social Media Marketing that will suit your lifestyle and training needs and provide you with the perfect foundation for your future as an affiliate marketer.

Whether you’re looking to upskill or entirely transform your career path, we have industry designed training to provide you with the practical skills and experience needed.

After a career change? Take a look at our Transform course: 

Planning to upskill? Our Elevate courses are perfect for you:

If you have any questions, our experienced team is here to discuss your training options. Speak to a course advisor and take the first steps in your affiliate marketing journey.

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