Assignment 4: Final Project

The purpose of the final project is to give you an opportunity to develop an original visualization design, method, algorithm, or tool. In teams of 3-4, your project should address a meaningful visualization problem and present a novel solution in the form of one interactive visualization (you’re welcome to include any number of supporting visualizations.) The final deliverable should be published on Observable accompanied by a significant written portion. You are encouraged but not required, to include an evaluation component (e.g. user testing) in your project.

Unlike previous assignments, this assignment has multiple due dates. Your final assignment grade will be cumulative, as follows:

4.1: Project Proposal

Find your team members, do research, make sketches, and do some exploratory analysis to decide on the visualization problem you want to tackle.

Write a 500-word proposal describing your plan. Include screenshots and images as needed to communicate your ideas. Make sure your proposal covers:

If for any reason, you foresee that Observable will pose a limitation to your final project concept, make sure to describe this in your proposal.

Submit your proposal in the form of a PDF file or Google Doc url for A4.1, by Monday 10/29, 11:59pm.

4.2: In-Progress critique

Present your final project plan and any design and development work thus far for in-class critique on 11/13. A panel of 3-4 external guests active in the field will be invited to critique and help you improve your project. Prepare to present for 5 min., with 7 min. for critique and discussion. Every team member should speak. Timing is strict due to our limited class time, so practice your presentations: it should take only 5 min.

Your presentation should be polished, but because this is a great (and possibly your best) opportunity for feedback, you are encouraged to discuss ideas or alternatives you are still considering, rather than decisions you’ve already made. Make sure you give your critics enough context (i.e. prior decisions and what you’re trying to achieve) to give you helpful input.

By this stage in your project, you should know “what” you want to say about your data, and be exploring “how” you want to say it.

Example presentation outline:

Submit your group’s PDF file or Google Slides url for A4.2, by Monday 11/12, 11:59pm.

A4.3: Final Project and Showcase

Dec. 4th 6–8pm @ Brown Center, Columbia Journalism School

Invite your friends and professors! A broader group of viz critics from on- and off-campus to give you opportunity to show your work. Each team will have a table for your laptops and at least 50% screen time on the wall next to you (there are four wall screens plus four wall projectors at 1920x1080px each.) There will be free food.

Your responsibility is 1) a completed final visualization, and 2) a lightning talk in 9 slides.

Each group will have 20 seconds x 9 auto-advancing slides, for a total of 3 min. I repeat: slides will auto-advance. Link to your final visualization. The goal of the lightning talk is to get the audience excited about your work so they come speak with you afterwards. This is a common format at tech conferences and is very engaging and effective. See these resources for ways to prepare a lightning talk. Write a script, and practice, practice, practice.

Submit your group’s Google Slides url for Showcase by Monday 12/4, 11:59pm.

Final Documentation


  1. 1+ interactive visualization(s) at one URL
  2. 500-800 word writeup
  3. 3+ PNGs for Mudd public screens

Consider any tweaks you might want to make based on Final Showcase feedback.

In your final URL submission, lead with your visualization(s) presented in the best way for reading on the internet. Assume average visitors will not read your documentation, so include enough text and labels that visitors can understand.

Below it or linked as a blogpost (e.g., your final write-up should be between 500-800 words and should include the following elements, with the bulk of words in Methodology and Discussion sections (you need not label or divide your sections exactly thus):

Finally, for display on public screens in Mudd and DSI, create static images of the best visual representation of your project; design these like digital posters that will grab your classmate’s attention from across the hallway. Render your images using this .psd template or mimic it, and submit a zipped file containing the following in PNG format:

Submit your group’s writeup URL + display PNGs and individually, your peer assessments for all of A5, by Monday 12/10, 11:59pm.

Grading Criteria

We’re looking for:

We’d also love to see:

Make sure you do not have: