Design 5 and 6: Storytelling with data

This is a group assignment and will be graded. Coming weeks you will create a narrative supported by several visualizations on a news topic of choice. This narrative has to be presented in a 3 minutes video.

Read the whole assignment and go trough the examples before you start!!

Part 1: TOPIC

You have to choose a topic of your story. This should be some up-to-date news item. You can choose from one of the following news items from Het Parool:

Or you can choose your own relevant news item, like:

Don’t forget to link to your idea sources in your final presentation video!


You don’t have to collect and process the data. However, make sure that you find some data sources to give you a feeling what is out there on the topic of choice. Link to the data source in your final video presentation. You might also want to compare/combine different (controversial/conflicting) news or data sources, to create a good twist to your story (refer to [Alberto Cairo talk] for inspiration, you can either watch it this week or next week).

Part 3: SKETCHING (linked views)

Note: Sketch on paper! Sketch the narrative of your story: opening, conflict, consequences. Each part of your narrative should consists of a visualization and may consists of text/icons/symbols. Annotate all your visualizations to make them self explanatory. Sometimes the title will be sufficient, but at times you might want to add additional textual information or icons/symbols/etc. Don’t forget the basic elements like axes, axes names, legend, title. Each visual representation must be meaningful and all of them together must tell one story. You can design an interactive system and your visualizations can be linked (refer to the Reading 5)


At this point you should be able to present your preliminary work at the weekly design session. Gather as much feedback as possible from your fellow students. Also try to look very critically at your own work, ex. by following the design critique check-list critique. If you have more time this week and want to gather more feedback, go ahead and work on the next part of the assignment.


Create an outline of your narrative. Think of a good catchy title. Think about the story you want to tell: who will be your audience, what will be the opening, what will be the conflict/climax, what are the consequences of the conflict? What are the insights your audience will remember? Refer to the talk of Albert Cairo and the reading Reading 5 for background information on storytelling and for inspiration!


Pitch your narrative supported by your sketches in a 3 minutes video. Your sketches should be visible and you should go through them telling the story. Here are some examples of presenting the story supported by the visualizations:

Your task is really hard as you only have sketches. But don’t worry that unlike in the examples you do not have advanced and fancy graphics. Your task is to ‘sell’ your potential story so that you can implement it in the future!

You can choose between different formats of your presentation. It can either be just a screencast (of the static visuals) with recorded voice like Swine flu alert, or a (phone) recording of you telling the story in front of the board/paper with your visualizations like Storytelling by Robert Kosara, or a full presentation with animated/annotated visualizations and voice (tip for windows users: Camtasia Studio has a trail version that you can use for this) like Wealth Inequality in America.

And here are some tips on how to make a good pitch in 2-3 minutes: Pitching your passion

Don’t forget to link to the used sources in the video. You can either do it on the bottom of the screen, or add a slide with links at the end of the video (it can even be a recording of screen with text or a printed list).