“the greatest value of a picture is when it forces us to notice what we never expected to see.” - John Turkey
Here is a good resource for making matplotlib plots prettier: http://nbviewer.ipython.org/gist/olgabot/5357268
That said, the fact that you have to do so much work to get something done points to a problem.
Bokeh aims to fix this by making a matplotlib style plotting for the internet: http://nbviewer.ipython.org/github/damianavila/bokeh_overview/blob/master/Bokeh%20Overview.ipynb
It's worth knowing about this package and exploring it, but it doesn't seem ready for prime time yet.
First let's see an unsurprising example.
from bokeh.sampledata.iris import flowers from bokeh.plotting import * output_notebook()