Class project


The goal of this project is to give you some hands-on experience with creating a fully-functional interactive information visualization. This consists of several components: understanding the user of the visualization, what kinds of tasks he or she is trying to perform with the visualization, what is his or her background and expertise, and what kind of data we’re dealing with.

For this project, you will choose a dataset to visualize. Explore the dataset, what attributes it contains, their types, how many cases are in the set, etc. Think about whether you will need to clean it up, complete the data with data from other sources, etc.

In this project, you will develop a high-quality, interactive visualization that will showcase your own interesting ideas. Be creative. Think about the data and what the user is trying to do with it. Think about appropriate representations. Think about appropriate interactions to transform the data or their representation. Most of all, be creative. And be creative.

This is not a programming project, but it is a project that will involve programming. Interaction plays an essential role in visualization, and it is difficult to understand the interaction in a visualization without a running system.


  1. Group formation, choice of dataset. [19/12/14, during lab]
  2. Initial project description (10%). [9/01/15, β€œmidnight”]
  3. Project design document (25%). [23/01/15, before class]
  4. Project presentations and demos (65%). [13/02/14, in class]
  5. Project reports (65%). [13/02/14, β€œmidnight”]

Group and dataset

Before the lab on December 19th, you should already have formed your groups of 4–5 people. During the lab, you will choose a dataset. We have provided you with a selection of already-available datasets, but you are welcome to propose another dataset on the condition that you get it approved before-hand.

During the lab, you will explore the available datasets, paying attention to how many cases there are, how many variables, and of what types. Think about what these data might encode. Find a dataset that interests you. For any successful project, at least one member of the group should be passionate about the data.

Project description

A 1–2 page document with:

  • The names of all project members
  • The topic to be addressed, the datasets to use, where the data come from, and their formats.
  • A description of the problem
    • Who are the users?
    • What are their backgrounds?
    • What are they trying to understand from the data?
  • A description of the data
    • What are the characteristics of the data, the attributes, the size of the dataset, etc.

Choose one member of the group to submit this milestone. Make sure the document is in the form of a PDF, and submit it using the rendu TP system.

Design document

By this point, you should have had more time to explore your data and to get a better understanding of your users. You should also have brainstormed potential designs. This document should expand on your initial project description to provide a refined, more detailed description of what you included in the previous document. If the previous document was 1–2 pages, this part of the design document should not be more than about 2–3 pages.

Next, present your initial designs for the project. You should have at least three distinct design directions. Choose your three preferred directions and present them here. Briefly explain the ideas behind each design, and what you feel works well and does not work well about the design.

I am expecting to see three distinct, fully-thought-out design ideas. Draw sketches in color on paper or in your favorite drawing tool. Think about interaction. You might wish to use story-boarding techniques to show this, like a comic strip. The idea is to show the key interactions, not to create a literary or artistic masterpiece. Your goal is to rapidly explore and develop many different ideas.

Submit your report in PDF format to the project depot.

Presentation and demo

Each group will have around 12 minutes to present their project. Presentations should clearly present:

  • The chosen data set
    • What does it represent
    • How many cases are there?
    • What are the dimensions, their properties, etc. (e.g.Β are they ordinal, nominal, etc.)
  • Who are the target users?
    • What are they trying to understand from the data?
    • What kind of experience do they have with the data?
    • What kind of experience do they have with visualization tools?
  • What are some representative tasks?
    • What kinds of things would a user potentially want to understand from the data?
    • What questions helped guide your design?
  • What is your chosen design?
    • What representations did you choose to use?
    • What interaction does the design handle?
    • Can you related these design decisions to your chosen users, data, and tasks?
    • What does the design do well?
    • What does it not do well?

That’s a lot to cover in not much time, especially with a live demo. Make sure you have practiced before-hand!


Your report should cover the same topics as the presentation, but here you have more space to go into depth. There is a page limit of 10–20 pages, but that’s not a target: use the space that you feel is justified to cover all of these topics. Be sure to use a legible, serif font at a reasonable size with reasonable margins.

Submit your report in PDF format to the project depot.


The project grade will be determined by:

  • 10% β€” Initial project description.
  • 25% β€” Project design document.
  • 65% β€” The final project, as evaluated by the presentation, demo, and report.