With August being Water Quality month, we thought we would show some vizzes from the recent Iron Viz which has the theme of Water.

We each picked 2 vizzes, to say what we liked, what we learnt and what would we add.


First up is Lilian Hoang‘s Viz about ‘Forgetting Flint‘.


What I Like

  1. I think Lilian’s design is beautiful. It is simple and clean. It has plenty of space to prevent the dashboard from feeling crowded while having many elements. The color choices work nicely – I particularly like the lighter header making the background information easy to read, and the yellow/orange on the vertical timeline which contrasts the darker, main background to jump off the page.
  2. The vertical timeline works well, and I like how Lilian identifies key events that cause spikes in the discussion around Flint. It is interesting that some seemingly major events prior to switching back to Detriot’s water, such as a warning to boil the water before drinking failed to make national waves (water pun intended). I think the supporting analysis along the timeline works well – I particularly like the simple bar charts showing the increase in frequency of the word “still” in tweets about Flint water. This is a great dataset, and data-driven storytelling is excellent.

What I Learned

  1. Just how long Flint has been facing an incredibly challenging safety issue. While I do not remember exactly, I – like most people – most likely was first aware of the issue in early 2016, which turns out to be two years into the crisis.
  2. Creativity with native Tableau elements. Other than in the header, it looks like everything is native to Tableau. One of the areas that impressed me was the year headers. Her trick of using arrows which have their top cutoff is brilliant. While PowerPoint can be handy to add a little falir to the dashboard, the value of keeping it in Tableau is clear on this example – she puts some slick viz-in-tooltip bar charts to provide additional overview metrics for the reader.

What I Would Have Done Differently

  1. As I mentioned earlier, I love the supporting analysis off the timeline, but I would have liked to see the text a bit larger. While there is a fine balance to keep a clean, minimal feel, the insights you share in these text blurbs are wonderful and should be easy to read.
  2. I think it would be helpful to include some indication of scale on the dashboard. My initial thought is under some (or all) of the annotations, include X tweets on this day. While we can get information on how many tweets were sent by year, I want to know on the key days “what did the volume look like?”


Next, Lorna chose Meera Losani about ‘A Rising Tide of Plastic in the Ocean’


What I Like

I love the consistency around this viz. The colours make items pop where needed. The viz follows a story. I would of love to see a forecast of plastic on the first chart. I love how the map blends into the flow of the viz, and the bubbles stand out. I may have reduced the transparency of it to allow the smaller countries around Europe to be a little more visable. I like the conversions of images at the bottom. Very appropriate. And the call to action, allows users to click a link to help end plastic pollution.

What I learnt

  1. I need to stop using so much plastic! I love the ocean, and I certainly do not want to be caught in a plastic jellyfish!
  2. I can’t believe that those 10 rivers cause 90% of plastic pollution! That is crazy!

What I would of done differently

  1. As I mentioned, I really like how she has used the green colour to pick out some of those key numbers, but I would have made them bigger so they stood out even more, especially that about the 10 rivers causing 90%.
  2. I might of spread it out a little more. Used the padding options within sheets/containers. Just to give it a little more space around some charts and titles
  3. Maybe with more time, adding in a river map to show exactly where those rivers are. To show are they close by? Is one leading to another etc.


Corey’s second viz was Harpreet Ghuman about ‘How’s Africa Doing?’

How's Africa Doing_.png

What I Like

  1. Interactivity! Man, this dashboard is an excellent example of the power of dashboard actions. Harpreet does a great job of giving the user the ability to drive the analysis within a guided framework. His “selected criteria” icon which changes colors to highlight which actions are being displayed is incredibly clever. The hover action on the color legend really makes the levels on the tile map pop and allows you to easily see what is different from the majority/trend.
  2. The heart of this dashboard is very nice; it is a strong use case for a tile map because you want to be able to compare the change over time regardless of the size of the country – I think the area chart succeeds here. The “compare” section works great with the tile map to give some high-level benchmarks, and I like that it comes after the tile map (left to right) so that it is additional context, rather than the thing you see first. The choose your own option reminds me of some of the #Data17 Iron Viz finalist dashboards, and I think it will help drive engagement.

What I Learned

  1. The question “How’s Liberia Doing?” compared to the rest of the countries appears to be answered with “not so great.” It is interesting to see the % of pop accessing surface water increase and unimproved water source decrease, a trend that is opposite to most countries. This means more people now are obtaining drinking water from lakes or rivers than in 2000.
  2. The difference between urban and rural access to nearby improved drinking water is massive. In 2015 in Somalia 80% of the rural population does not have access to improved drinking water and 62% are drinking from unimproved water source or worse. It would be interesting to have a KPI that shows number of (or percentage of countries) below the global percentage of improved water source — that number would be staggering and impactful.

What I Would Have Done Differently

  1. I agree that % of population should be the main metric for the overall analysis, but I think it would be great to somewhere also have the population size. Potentially as a light, sub-label below the country name? Or possibly just in the tooltip? It would take some playing around but think this context would be useful.
  2. The text in the information icon is useful background context. I worry that not everyone will hover to read it. I think I would look to pull the key pieces out from there and put a subtitle or textbox on the dashboard to provide the context upfront to the audience.


Lorna’s second viz was Frederic Fery about ‘Fix our Water! Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’

Fix our water, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.png

What I Like

This viz is simple and clean. The colours match the image he has used, keeping with the aboriginal theme throughout. Frederic highlights key facts and stories all the way through his viz. Is it very ascetically pleasing. Another with a call to action at the bottom, which allows the user to help the situations.

What I learnt

We never really hear about water issues in a developed country like Australia, so it was a big learning curve for me. Especially seeing that up to 30% of children are not able to clean their faces.

What I would have done differently

  1. I would love to have seen more images to make the messages, in this important topic, stand out more. Especially in the Aboriginal style. So having boarders around the images. Using powerpoint for things like this is great!
  2. I love bar charts, but I would of loved to see something more than that here. Maybe a pie chart or Quadrant chart for the not all children have a clean face chart.



Congratulations to everyone who participated in Iron Viz this round. There are 78 amazing entries with a wide range of analysis. I hope you dig into some of the dashboards and think about what you like, what you learned, what you would have done differently AND bring these lessons back with you to your work! Good Luck for Iron Viz.


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