HW5 Design: Arrange Spatial Data


The purpose of this assignment is to provide you with some experience designing a visualization from scratch. You will use the examples that we have discussed in class to design an effective visualization of spatial data. This assignment must be completed on your own. Each part is equally weighted: please follow the submission guidelines on T-Square to receive full credit.


Part 1: Visualization Design (1 page)

In this assignment, you will design a visualization for a data set and provide a rigorous rationale for your design choices. You should in theory be ready to explain the contribution of every pixel in the display. You are free to use any graphics or charting tool you please--including drafting it by hand. However, you may find it most instructive to create the chart from scratch using a graphics API of your choice.

Your task is to design a static (i.e., single image) visualization that you believe effectively communicates the data. While you must use the data set given, note that you are free to transform the data as you see fit. You are also free to incorporate external data as you see fit. Your chart image should be interpretable without recourse to your short write-up. Do not forget to include title, axis labels or legends as needed! Feel free to draw upon the examples described in class, in the textbook, and from assigned readings for inspiration.

Grading: We will evaluate the quality of your design with respect to the data available. We will evaluate if you followed the directions and estimate the quality of your design choices. We will determine if you followed the rules of thumb and design criteria discussed in class.

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Part 2: Design Justification (1 page)

You should provide a short write-up (no more than 1 page) describing your design. As different visualizations can emphasize different aspects of a data set, you should document what aspects of the data you are attempting to most effectively communicate. In short, what story (or stories) are you trying to tell? What tasks does this visualization support? Just as important, also note which aspects of the data might be obscured or down-played due to your visualization design. In your write-up, you should provide a rigorous rationale for your design decisions. Document the visual encodings you used and why they are appropriate for the data. These decisions include the choice of visualization idiom, size, marks and channels, as well as the use of sorting or other data transformations. How do these decisions facilitate effective communication?

Grading: We will evaluate the quality of your design justification. We will evaluate if you followed the directions and estimate the quality of your rationale. We will evaluate how well you justify your choice of attributes, tasks, and visual idioms based upon the material we've covered in class so far. Please proofread your submission before submitting it and make sure it is free of spelling and grammar issues.

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Data Set

Georgia Presidential Election Data [csv]

The csv files contains data items with attributes in comma-separated-value format. The data files have column headers, so the attributes should be relatively self-explanatory. In the zip file you will find three files containing the presidential election results for counties in Georgia from 2004, 2008, and 2012. In addition, a supporting file is included that you could potentially use to create shapes for the counties programmatically if you choose. For each county, the number of points is given followed by the points of latitude and longitude that describe the boundary of the county. It is not required that you use this file, but if you are taking a more programming-oriented approach you might find it useful.

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