Why we built our very own virtual kudo card creator

VI Company
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Share-Kudos, the virtual kudo card creator
##**Introduction** At VI Company we foster a culture in which we take time and effort to recognize each other’s contributions and successes. On some occasions, it’s as simple as a face-to-face ‘thank you’ from one colleague to another. On other occasions, we write each other a ‘kudo card’.

Such a kudo card has a lasting impact, as it’s a physical object with a personal message of recognition by a peer. Many of us treasure these kudo cards deeply, and proudly display them on our desks.

Enter COVID-19

In March 2020, the COVID-19 virus came knocking on our door. From one day to the next, we found ourselves in a nation-wide lockdown. Gone was the sanctuary of our office environment, and along with it our cherished office culture. Instead, we had to lock ourselves in our own homes, organize video-conferences from our kitchen table while acting as substitute teachers for our children.

In time we became accustomed to this new way of working. Many of us even started to prefer working from home over the office environment. Nonetheless, several social elements from our company's culture were difficult to replicate in a remote setting. A particular social element that was dearly missed was the ability to properly recognize a colleagues' contributions and successes like we used to with kudo cards.

First version of the printed Share-Kudos Cards
*Image: example of printed kudo cards with comments written on them.*

Obviously, it is impossible to give each other kudo cards in person during a lockdown. And sending each other physical cards by post when a [at that time] little-understood virus was spreading around didn't seem like the brightest of ideas. Thus, we came up with the concept of Share-Kudos.

Share-what now?

What if we could replace our physical kudo cards with virtual ones? The idea was simple enough, therefore we assumed that others already created something similar before. Hence, the first thing we did was look around for virtual kudo cards creators that we could use as an alternative.

However, none of the kudo card creators that we found gave us the same experience as writing a physical kudo card. Oftentimes the quality of the [design of the] virtual kudo cards was found lacking as well.

DIY project

So, what if we would build our own kudo card creator? Three of the key elements were already in place:

  • Sometime before the lockdown we already designed kudo cards in our company's branding. This design could easily be expanded on.
  • The code we used on an unrelated experiment could be repurposed to create images from a virtual canvas.
  • A group of colleagues was genuinely excited to turn this idea into reality.
From raw sketch to smooth illustration.

Hence, we set up our team, and discussed on how to approach this project. The decision was made to keep the concept as simple as possible, the tool itself small in scale, and have fun while working on it. In doing so we ensured this project could be realized within a short timeframe while not requiring too many resources. This was important considering all team members worked on it in-between clients’ projects.

Next to that, we decided on three features that Share-Kudos should offer:

  1. Write and draw on the virtual kudo card as if it was a physical one.
  2. The kudo card must be shareable on every medium (online and print).
  3. Share-Kudos.com is free to use for everybody.

The process

Using these three features as our guideline we applied the ScrumBan methodology and divided the project into little chunks. The result was about 60 concise tickets. Once completed Share-Kudos would be in BETA.

Considering many key elements were already in place we had a running start. Work went smoothly, and within a few weeks, our virtual kudo card creator was nearly finished. As with any other project, there were some hick-ups along the way; for example, a feature turned out to be more difficult to implement than expected, or cards were not rendered properly once downloaded. But whatever the problem was, our team managed to overcome it.

Finally figured out how to offer various fonts in the card editor
*Image: An early test, rendered from a virtual canvas.*

Before going live we launched a closed BETA within our company. The first results were positive. Colleagues started writing and drawing virtual kudo cards for one another. Meanwhile, we collected their feedback on how to improve [aspects of] Share-Kudos, prioritized the most valuable and critical of feedback, and went back to work for the finishing touches.

Live & kicking

The result is Share-Kudos.com. Its a nifty little tool that anybody can use to create and download virtual kudo cards for free. In turn, these kudo cards can be uploaded and shared on social media (e.g. Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn), messaging platforms (e.g. Whatsapp, WeChat, Slack), and e-mail. It's also possible to print our kudo cards, and proudly display them on your home-office wall or fridge door!

So what’s next? Currently, our team is looking to improve on existing features and introduce some cool new ones.

The Virtual Share-Kudo Card Creator
*Image: example of the Share-Kudos.com's virtual kudo card creator.*

Have you already given Share-Kudos.com a try? If not, what are you waiting for? Start sending some positive vibes to your colleagues, friends, and loved ones!

Connect with us

For all the latest news and updates on Share-Kudos please follow us on LinkedIn! We love to hear your experiences and feedback! As always, all feedback and feature requests are welcome :-)

Do you have any questions or remarks about this project? Perhaps you're interested in physical copies of our Share-Kudo cards? If so please contact us via hello@share-kudos.com.

This article was originally written by Senior UX Designer Max Senden.

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