For the final #IronQuest of 2021, I had the pleasure of teaming up with Judit Bekker to co-host the ‘Viz a Year or Decade’ round. Originally the theme was going to be ‘viz the year or decade you were born’. However, we recognised that some people may have been sensitive about sharing their age so instead, we decided to let participants pick a year or decade of their choice.

Before I go any further, I would appreciate your feedback on the #IronQuest project!

Please respond to this short survey to let us know what you enjoyed most about 2021 and what topics you would like to viz this year!

We received a total of 26 submissions for the ‘Viz a Year or Decade’ round and welcomed 12 first-time participants to the project! As always, it was fantastic to see the diverse range of topics covered and the creativity shown through the entries. This month we saw participants put together vizzes recounting significant moments from history or reliving nostalgic moments from past decades. Some looked back at their favourite TV shows, video games or music from the past, while others revisited significant sporting moments or even looked at the impact of the Covid era on our lives and the world around us.

We were lucky enough to have two entries recognised as ‘Viz of the Day’ this month too! Congratulations to Priya and Sandeep on having your work featured by Tableau Public!

(click the images below to view the interactive vizzes on Tableau Public)

Priya Padham – Movies of the 90s

Priya’s viz explores the highest-rated movies of the 1990s on IMDB. Priya used visual encoding elements such as circles and hatching to represent each movies’ genre and the number of awards it won at The Oscars. The movies are presented in a small-multiple grid using a poster-style, art deco design that perfectly compliments the theme.

I love the design of this viz! If you are curious how it was built, Priya documented her entire build process here. This viz uses map layers in Tableau to help position the individual elements in the main grid.

Well done, Priya!

Link to viz:

Sandeep Gundeboina – The Freedom

This newspaper-style viz recounts the story of India’s journey to independence, from 1857 to 1947. Sandeep used a timeline to call out key events that happened during the freedom struggle. Each point on the timeline is described in the text beside it. At the bottom of the viz, Sandeep visualises the fasts made by Mahatma Gandhi, an activist known for his nonviolent philosophy of passive resistance. Gandhi resorted to the hunger strike as a method of resistance during the independence struggle, knowing that the British government would not be able to withstand the pressure of the public’s concern for the man they called Mahatma, or “Great Soul.”

Well done, Sandeep!

Link to viz:


In addition to the vizzes mentioned above, there are a few vizzes I would like to give a special mention to. This month we were inundated with fantastic entries but these vizzes each deserve a special mention for their uniqueness and/or approach to design, storytelling and analysis (the Iron Viz scoring criteria).

Michelle Frayman – 1969 Here comes the sun but it is the end for The Beatles

In this viz, Michelle focuses on the year of her birth, 1969. A lot happened in 1969 but Michelle chose to focus on the English rock band, The Beatles. In 1969, The Beatles were nearing the end of their years performing as a band and subsequently, broke up the following year. In 1969, they released their famous ‘Abbey Road’ and ‘Yellow Submarine’ albums and recorded their final session together for Abbey Road’s closing track, ‘The End’.

Michelle is a dedicated #IronQuest participant and has entered almost every round. However, this is probably my favourite viz of Michelle’s. I love the way that Michelle tells a story, supported by data, in this viz. Throughout the viz, she uses orange to subtly highlight the events of 1969, for example, the shading in the Album section. My favourite part of this viz is the bar chart in the Live section which uses an innovative bar chart where bar length is used to represent the number of live shows played and width to represent the number of countries they played in. This helps to emphasise simply how busy their touring schedule was throughout their 8-year reign.

The viz is presented beautifully in (predominantly) black and white, using a striped design; a hat-tip to the album cover of the ‘Abbey Road’ album where the band are photographed walking across a pedestrian crossing (which also have a black and white striped design) near the Abbey Road recording studios in London.

Well done, Michelle!

Link to viz:

Stefan Melgaard – 2015 A Year in TV

In this viz, Stefan visualises the top 30 shows broadcast across the five terrestrial TV channels in the UK. This viz spans multiple sheets and explores the number of views by episode/show by broadcast date, and the most-watched shows by channel. Stefan also created two separate storytelling-heavy views which focus on both reality TV and ‘Soap Wars’. In the UK, reality TV shows tend to broadcast a season at a time, typically lasting a few months. In the ‘Reality TV’ view (shown below), Stefan adds context and story to the viewing stats by providing written commentary via annotations to explain what might have driven the viewing figures. He takes a similar approach in the ‘Soap Wars’ view. In the UK, major soap operas are broadcast daily (Monday – Friday) and there is a lot of rivalry between the soaps as they battle to see who can attract the highest viewing figures. In this viz, Stefan again uses commentary via annotations to explain the storylines in each soap which likely impacted the viewing stats.

I love how detailed this viz is! Stefan clearly put a lot of thought and work into it. So often, vizzes can lack storytelling elements but this viz goes to great lengths to explain the data on display.

Below are two pages taken from the viz. Check out the viz on Tableau Public for the full experience!

Link to viz:

Luke Abraham – The Sinking of the Rainbow Warrier

In this viz, Luke tells the story of The Rainbow Warrier; a ship used by Greenpeace to evacuate 350 islanders from Rongelap, an island in the Marshall Islands that was irradiated by nuclear testing in 1954.

Unlike the majority of vizzes submitted for this round, this viz is designed horizontally, spanning multiple panes. This approach helps to distil the story down into more manageable chunks which can be consumed individually. While the viz is light on analytical elements (likely due to the nature of the topic and limited date availability), Luke does a fantastic job of using different design elements and charts to present the data and compellingly tell a story. The design remains consistent throughout the viz and (cleverly) tells the story using the colours of the rainbow, with each pane using a different colour.

This is just one pane of a much wider viz!

Link to viz:

Nicole Klassen – Doctor Who

In this long-form viz, Nicole tells the story of the TV show, Doctor Who. Doctor Who has been running for 58 years and a total of 13 actors have played the character so far. Nicole’s viz provides plenty of background into the show which helps to set the scene and add context. Throughout the viz, Nicole constantly refers back to friends and companions to emphasise the importance of companionship to the Doctor, but also to help explain who has accompanied the Doctor on their adventures over the years.

This viz is incredibly detailed but each element has been well-considered and the sectioned design helps to break it down into more manageable chunks for the audience to consume. However, it flows well with each section naturally flowing into the next. Nicole uses a good balance of different chart types and visual depictions, with annotations and ‘How to Read’ sections, where needed.

Link to viz:


Judit and I provided feedback to everyone who requested it during our conversation, which has since been posted on YouTube.

You can listen to our feedback here:

We reviewed the vizzes in reverse-alphabetical order (by author first name) to make it easier for you to jump straight to the feedback for your viz. The video is also split into chapters to make it easier to jump to vizzes of interest.

In this video we cover vizzes by the following authors, reviewed in this order:

Varun Jain
Stefan Melgaard
Simon Arira
Satoshi Ganeko
Sandeep Gundeboina
Michelle Frayman
Luke Abraham
Lilla Rasztik
Jessica Moon
Ivelina Terziivanova
Idris Akilapa

Attila Juhasz
Anne-Sophie Pereira De Sa
Anjushree B V
Ali Tehrani

All Submissions

THANK YOU to everyone who submitted entries for taking the time to create and share your work! Also, a big thank you Judit for being a fantastic co-host.

All of the entries are posted below (except for those mentioned above) in alphabetical order by first name. If you tweeted your viz or thought you submitted one via the Google Form but don’t see it here, let me know and I’ll work to include any additional entries ASAP.

Aakarsh – Australia’s Dominance (1997-2009)

Adam Green – Marvin Gaye – 1982 – Sexual Healing

Ali Tehrani – 1998 (Movies)

Anjushree B V – Popular Dog Breeds

Anne-Sophie Pereira De Sa – Geocaching through 2020 – 2021

Attila Juhasz – Most Decorated Olympic Athletes

DataKo – A Decade of Anime

Frederic Fery – Monty Python’s Flying Circus

Frederic Fery – Monty Python’s Flying Circus – 10,000 Dialogues

Idris Akilapa – Summer Olympics Atlanta 1996

Irina – Environmental education and tourism in Russia (2011-2020)

Ivelina Terziivanova – What was on my Bookshelf in 2021?

Jessica Moon – Tops of 1986

Lilla Rasztik – Serial killers in the US during the 1990s

Neil Richards – Fifty Years of Prime Factors

Satoshi Ganeko – 3 Different Years of USA Air Travel

Scott Buckley – The Big Red Machine

Simon Arira – My Top 10 Video Games

Varun Jain – Denmark’s Renewable Energy Journey

Yeo Jun Yan – My Childhood – 90s Animated and Children’s Live-Action Shows

#IronQuest will return with a brand-new challenge in February, after the conclusion of the 2022 Iron Viz feeder contest.

In the meantime, stay up to date with all things #IronQuest by following the hashtag #IronQuest on Twitter and LinkedIn. Check out the Iron Quest section of my blog for details of the latest projects and how to participate.

Thanks for reading.