2023.02.02 Designing Under Constraints Activity


Your group will brainstorm an interactive dashboard for viewing election results in a far future election. The complication is that you must design with a specific constraint which will limit what you can do. Here are the rules:

Please follow this procedure:

Step 1 - 11:20AM to 11:28AM - [GROUP] Identify Key Goals
  1. As a group, read the instructions and Brief included below.
  2. Then, come up to the front of the room and roll dice to get a Constraint.
  3. Together, come up with a use case for your visualization. Discuss how you will accommodate the constraint.
  4. Rank those tasks in order of importance using any method you'd like (e.g. voting, by consensus)

Step 2 - 11:28AM to 11:38AM - [INDIVIDUAL] Two sketches
  1. Now, working individually, begin making two very rough visualization sketches that best satisfy those tasks. Keep them low fidelity. You can use any medium you like (e.g.pen and paper, tablets, UI prototyping software, presentation tools, a whiteboard).
  2. Refer back to the dataset and think about what you want to show.
  3. Keep polishing your ideas until your group reconvenes.

Step 3 - 11:38AM to 11:55PM - [GROUP] Final design
  1. As a group, go around and discuss each person's sketches. Keep it to 1 minute per sketch.
  2. Working together, create a consensus sketch.
  3. Make sure that you nominate one person to talk about your group's idea at the end of class.
Step 4 - 11:55PM to 12:05PM - [CLASS] Reconvene
  1. We will reconvene at the end to check out everyone's ideas.

Your brief

It's October, 2036 and an election is on in the USA. Two front-runners, Candidate Smith of the Bull Moose Party (party color goldenrod) and Candidate Thompson of the Whig Party (party color indigo), are closely competing for the presidency. As a part of a media agency, you have been tasked constructing a web-based dashboard which uses visualization to show users either:

Your group can choose which of these cases they would like to pursue.


Please enter the result of your dice roll and press the button to get your group's constraint

Dice result


Election Result Data

Each "row" of data is an update of election results for a specific "precinct" (a part of a state).

Precinct name
State it is in
Total size of precinct
Amount of votes currently counted
Amount of votes left to count
# Votes for Smith
# Votes for Thompson
Prediction for the precinctAlgorithmic prediction of who will win this precinct (e.g. too close to call, clear Thompson win)
Margin of error for prediction

As new precinct results come in, you generate updated state data.

State name
Number of electoral votes for state
Total # of votes currently counted
Total # of votes left to count
# Votes for Smith
# Votes for Thompson
Prediction for the state:Algorithmic prediction of who will win this state (e.g. too close to call, clear Thompson win)
Margin of error for prediction

Finally, you have country-wide data which is updating frequently.

Number of electoral votes won by Thompson
Number of electoral votes won by Smith
Total # of votes currently counted
Total # of votes left to count
Prediction for the countryAlgorithmic prediction of who will win
Margin of error for prediction
Poll Data

Each "row" of data is a poll. Polls can be nation-wide or on a state level. Assume they are coming in regularly and you have data for some but not all states each day. Thus far you've got about 2 months worth.

Poll title:Name of the poll
Date:When the poll was conducted (can be a range)
Rating:Your company's "rating" of poll quality
Sample size:Number of people polled
Sample details:What kind of people were polled (e.g. registered voters, likely voters, adults)
Sample region:Area where the sampling was done (e.g. country-wide, NY voters)
Results:Polling results (e.g. Thompson 44%, Smith 48%
Margin of error:Possible error in results
Adjusted results:Polling results corrected by your proprietary algorithm

You also have access to these data from a computational model for every day of the past two months.

Estimated candidate results:An estimate of the "true" poll results by aggregating polls
Margin of error for estimate:Possible error in estimate
  1. 538
  2. 538 (2)
  3. NYT page
  4. Real Clear Politics
  5. Polling Report