Project Community

The Idea

Project Community began to take shape as I observed my own workplace initiatives to improve employee morale and recognition in a workplace setting.  Working in an HR department has shown me what employees truly value over a monetary number.  Instead of prioritizing salary, employees want to find a working environment that fosters collaboration and promotes a positive workplace culture. This evolution has been fascinating to see unfold as I speak to more and more candidates and tenured staff.

I wanted to be able to support my own workplace goals and incorporate ways to make employees feel more connected and recognized within our company. When I was tasked with creating any app of my choice, I began to put some of my ideas together for this very concept.  

The Research 

I looked to my own workplace initiatives and what our department had done as small stepping stones to begin a budding recognition system. 

We started a shout out board:

We left small thank you cards in cubbies and managers made sure to recognize small and large accomplishment during staff meetings. I definitely wanted to incorporate these methods but employ them in a more digital sense. I mean, who doesn’t have their phone out during work, right???

To further supplement my research, I did a quick review of different shout out applications that were currently available. The list wasn’t exhaustive, but would include iAppreciate, Achievers, GiveaWow, and Bonusly. These focused more on specific teams or individual. The vision for Project Community is to have the app be implemented company-wide. To compare, I also started to then look at communication systems across teams and organizations, which included Slack, but again, none of them really appeared to be what I was looking for.  Most of them seemed to focus purely on messaging and communication.  

So I turned to magazines!

I found an article written in WorkSpan Magazine dedicated to the Hershey’s employee recognition platform that is used internally within that organization. Spearheaded by a company called Globoforce, their program is called SMILES and was met with great success when implemented.  Hershey’s was able to provide recognition around 90,000 times to 16,000 employees last year. One of the many quotes that struck me came from one of their more senior employees, who had been with the company for over 20 years.  He commented that the SMILES program was popular among employees because of the fact that you could be recognized by anyone, and anyone could receive them.  Morale has never been higher within Hershey’s. Since it is internal to Hershey’s, there isn’t too much information available about the interface. 

The Challenge

I wanted to incorporate these concepts into a mobile app that would allow employees to leave shoutouts for their peers that would also be public and personal.

Additionally, with a recognition system such as this, the biggest hurdle is the mindset. Typically an organization undergoing a community and culture initiative is met with some reluctance at first. The challenge here is to not only to design an app that can be used for employees who are not as tech savvy as others, but also make it appealing to those who don’t quite believe in its mission.   

As part of the project, I was also tasked with designing an app not only for iOS, but for Android as well.

The Approach

My first step was to quickly brainstorm ideas for the app based on my research:

Afterwards, I wanted to get a sense of what users truly wanted in an app like this. I posed the following questions in an anonymous survey.

Sample Survey

The results were interesting to see as it varied across the board. Most participants wanted to be recognized for either job performance, innovative ideas or taking on extra responsibilities. Most would have liked a verbal acknowledgement with no preference to either public or personal when receiving positive feedback.  

What was consistent among the results was that they all found that work being valued and appreciated was the most important, while the rest of the options fell into the “somewhat important” category or “not sure”.

Circling back to my original ideas, I wanted to make sure that I incorporated the concept of work appreciation in all forms into the app. I designed a workplace scenario based off the survey answers.

The User Flow

After constructing a base for my potential users, I then moved on to design the basic user flow of Project Community.

The Wireframes

With the user flow in place, I began to sketch out the beginning stages of Project Community starting with the low-fidelity wireframes. The designs focused on easy toggle from screen to scree through the bottom navigation bar and a recognizable feed similar to that of a social media platform like Facebook.

Transition to mid-fidelity wireframes. Design kept simple and intuitive.

UI Elements

The idea would be to have the colors match the branding of the company to ensure it really feels like it belongs to them. For the purpose of this app, I’ve opted for a soft but wholesome color palette with the uses of brown and soft pink. In terms of the typography, I envisioned that it would also mirror the organization’s branding for consistency. For this purpose, I chose Fira Sans for easy reading and familiarity.


See the prototype in InVision

Final Reflections:

I think the biggest challenge of this project was translating a recognition concept to the screen. I wanted to make sure that the users would feel connected and informed. The milestone tracker/reward system needed to have an effective but simple design. With the guidance of my mentor and feedback from fellow designers, I was able to clean up some of the issues regarding the UI elements. Most were simple fixes surrounding the user pictures and how they fit overall on the screen. My mentor had suggestions for the on-boarding screens and adding vector images. Aside from these edits, feedback was positive and users were excited to navigate through the screens. Many of my peers thought this would be useful in their own workplace.

I think the project could be improved by adding more user interaction rather than just viewing the information on the screens. I’d like to build in a comment/like section for the Employee Spotlight and the New Hires. I think it would be fantastic to have the user be able to receive notifications when a fellow colleague is giving them a quick like as a new employee. This would help keep the user engaged and will likely increase the odds that the user will continue to use the app. These are elements that I would like to design and incorporate in the future.  

I loved designing this app because it’s something that I feel very passionate about. I feel that this would be a good tool when used at a company undergoing community and culture initiatives. Ultimately, I am pleased with the final product, the look and feel of it, and the way it navigates through the user flows. Next time, I would like to improve my workflow by committing to my decisions and seeing them through. I felt that a lot of the time, I spent too much energy on a single element and its placement, which resulted in time not well spent. Time management is they key in this piece (and any project!) and I will endeavor to that better throughout future products and be confident in my decisions.  

Thank you for viewing Project Community.

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