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'Thanks For' - An E-mail Plug-In

'Thanks For' is an e-mail plugin that lets the user send and receive personal messages of gratitude in a interactive and dynamic manner.

Photo of Pragun Agarwal
9 21

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Employees in the modern day work environment are surrounded by endless meetings, intensive timelines and countless emails.

'Thanks for' is an e-mail plug-in that helps users transform generic messages into unique visual expressions. 'Thank you' or 'Thanks' is perfunctory, but ‘Thanks for’ prompts individuals to create more personalized and specific expressions of gratitude. Users can compose, receive and store personalized expressions of gratitude in a fun and intuitive way. 

The plug-in uses flat colours, bold typography and playful interactions to build up a system that makes the user more grateful and happy. 

Idea Title

Thank you to Thank you 'for'

How the Idea will inspire the experience and expression of gratitude within an organization.

Our concept is based on telling true stories of appreciation rather than generic words and phrases of gratitude that have become redundant and ubiquitous today. Adding the simple word 'for' after 'Thank you' or 'Thanks', elicits more specific and thus meaningful responses. This can encourage a culture that strengthens worker relationships, and boost feelings of satisfaction. We decided to translate this concept into an end product in the form of an e-mail plug-in, which lets the user send and receive messages of gratitude in a simple yet dynamic manner.

Who are you innovating for?

Young employees in corporations who may work as a team or individually under different program managers. We believe that these messages can translate into those small moments of happiness for these employees who are still trying to balance so many aspects of their work and personal life. Any form of appreciation and encouragement can really help to strengthen their connections with colleagues and also motivate them to achieve their goals.

What type of workplaces are you innovating for?

As of now, we have narrowed down on corporate environments as our main area of focus, as they use e-mails as one of their main tools for communication. Our solution is intended to cater to well established companies with large numbers of employees. As of now, we are looking to implement our solution to various finance and management companies in New York.

How you envision the Idea being introduced to your selected organization?

The plug-in will be pre-installed onto all company computer systems. It is also available and easily downloaded and installed by the user, and a link can be provided during the employee orientation. Also, because this will be a third party plug-in, regular updates and bug fixes can insure smooth functioning of the product. The different features of the plug-in are explained in a small intro video that is a part of the plug-in interface. There will also be a small printed and online booklet available to all employees that details the interface features, as well as carefully curated writing and inspirations on gratitude.

What obstacles, if any, do you foresee in implementing this Idea, and how would they be overcome?

As of now, the idea heavily relies on e-mail as a communication tool, however we think this system can be adapted to work seamlessly in alternate applications like Slack and Basecamp. Other than that, the development and backend structure of the plug-in needs to be monitored. We need to make sure that our concept comes out exactly or close to how we have envisioned the visual language.

How will you test and prototype your solution?

For our use testing, we asked three users from different educational and professional backgrounds questions about the importance of gratitude and how they use e-mail as a form of communication on a day to day basis. Along with this, we showed them all the features, user flow and a prototype that helped them visualise and also understand the experience that the plug-in might have on them on a day to day basis.

What immediate next steps will you take if you receive an implementation grant.

As a team, we will finalize the backend structure & development along with recognizing the platform from which the plug-in can be downloaded and installed. This opportunity will also help us to work with mentoring organizations to identify additional areas and tools that can be used to diversify the experience. It will help us develop and refine a consistent tone of voice– visually and verbally – that resonates with the overall ideology.

At what stage of development is your Idea?

  • Research & Early Testing: You are exploring an idea, gathering inspiration and information needed to test it with real users.

Please describe from where your Idea emerged

The whole idea stemmed from various group discussions about giving more meaning to expressions of gratitude. We shifted our thinking from using 'Thank you' and 'Thanks' to 'Thank you for'. We believe this encourages employees to explore deeper contact and connection in the messages they send and receive, strengthening bonds and motivating them in the workplace and beyond. We also sought to identify a solution that is very approachable and simple in it's usage.

Tell us about yourself

We are a team of three people: Pragun Agarwal, Cheryl Peng and Toral Mayur Bheda. We do not have any formal organisational roles as of now. Right from the start, we have tried to make the overall effort a truly collaborative one, even though we distributed tasks and duties during the different stages.

Where are you / your team located?

We are located in Baltimore, USA.

Please describe your legal and organizational structure

All of us are First-Year Graduate Graphic Design students studying at the Maryland Institute College Of Art, Baltimore.

Tell us about your experience

As a team this is our first experience working in the field of gratitude. Individually we have worked on a few projects that fall under the field of social design and impact.

Please describe, in detail, how you will test and get feedback on your concept.

There were many steps in our process to test this product. We started out with a SWOT analysis of our product, this helped us understand the the strong and possible weak characteristics of the plug-in, but more importantly it helped us focus down on what features to to emphasize on. Based on this information, we plotted the outcomes on a "Impact vs Time' diagram to further narrow down on the main areas where we could push our concept and visual language towards. Our user testing was conducted in a very simple manner. We interviewed three individuals from different professional and educational backgrounds. First we showed a video about the product, followed by some basic questions. The main part was for them to interact with the prototype, we had all the screens involved with out plug-in interface, printed and displayed so that they understand the flow and experience of the product. The final part of this testing was incorporating the feedback from these users.

Please describe specifically how you plan to scale your idea. What are the key next steps you will take, and how will those steps inform the evolution and growth of your concept?

The next steps for the evolution of our concept will be to understand the backend structure in terms of the coding and execution. We will set up meetings with professional developers to establish a clear understanding of the challenges and constraints that will need to be overcome to make a working prototype, capable of interfacing seamlessly with applications like Slack. Keeping the design language consistent and cohesive is another area that requires attention. At this point, we are able to make many dynamic layouts for the product. But we will need to work with software developers to create a system for creating generative liquid layouts that display clearly within the given space. This product has great scope in terms of adjusting to different office environments and structures. We will try and visualize different versions of the plug-in so that it aligns better with different kinds of teams and employees. We want to give users the ability to tweak the visual language and structure according to their unique needs.

As we have seen in the Challenge, there is a tension between authentic expressions of gratitude and mandatory gratitude. How does your idea inspire truly authentic expressions of gratitude versus mandated ones?

The whole essence of our product is to provide more context and insight to the user's message of gratitude. The shift from 'Thanks' to 'Thanks for' prompts the user to craft a more authentic and meaningful messages.

Gratitude often thrives when opportunities for connection are created. How will your concept create new opportunities for human connection?

Our product provides individuals simple opportunities to connect with their colleagues. Our goal is to cultivate playful and informal expressions gratitude in otherwise formal work environments.

Who (specifically) will benefit from your concept, and how they will interact with it? What design considerations have you included to ensure easy and intuitive interactions? 

Thanks For helps young professionals isolating in the cubicles of many corporate work environments. Many such employees often work extra hours, are extremely stressed and low on confidence. They feel undervalued and discouraged as they do not experience enough gratitude on a daily basis. Using this product might give them that small boost and upliftment that they need. The product makes it super easy for them to express genuine messages in just a few clicks. The end result is very dynamic amidst all the heaps of data and numbers they are surrounded by. The design of the product uses fresh colours, lively animations and sophisticated typography to really insure their interaction is memorable and easy to use at the same time. Even after storing the messages, setting them as their desktop wallpaper or even printing them out is extremely easy for the user.

Please describe how you intend to use the prize funding, if selected as a Top Idea. Be specific.

We will use the prize money to really push the product's transformation onto different office communication applications like Slack. This can help our product to be used more effectively as it will be seamlessly applied onto an already existing program that the employees use on a daily basis. Other than this, we would want to use these funds to really push for a smooth backend and front-end structure for the plug-in.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Cristina Bordin

Hi Pragun Agarwal Just read your team's idea and think it's great. This challenge resonates with me a lot. as gratitude can feed our engagement in the work we do. A couple of ideas:
1) You guys can also make hard copies cards with the same theme and looks so that the employees have an opportunity to deliver it in person and have a face-to-face conversation, which very often allows us to learn more about our colleagues.
2) Having a board game or an online game could be the next phase of your implementation plan. It's an additional way to apply/use the same concept.
Good luck with your project!

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