The Shorty Awards honor the best of social media and digital. View this season's finalists!

Special Project

Special Project
From the 16th Annual Shorty Awards

The Hidden Power of Feelings

Winner in UX/UI

Audience Honor in UX/UI


In the crucial stage of early adolescence, cultivating emotional intelligence can be challenging. However, at the heart of Microsoft Unlocked’s commitment to empowering people and organizations to achieve more through innovation lies a compelling story that brings the Feelings Monster to the forefront. This furry character resides within the Microsoft Reflect educational app, functioning as a check-in communication tool for educators and their students. By offering a deeper selection of emotions to choose from, students have begun to develop a more comprehensive emotional vocabulary, become more adept at identifying uncomfortable emotions and develop the skillset to mitigate them, underscoring Microsoft’s dedication to creating human-centric products that people love and use.

Through creative storytelling and interactive design elements, we illustrated the profound impact of what can happen when we emphasize Social Emotional Learning (SEL) and how it can catalyze positive transformations in students' relationships, academic performance, and overall success trajectory.

By sharing impactful anecdotes and real-world examples, we sought out to demonstrate the ripple effect of SEL, showcasing how it empowers students to better understand and manage their emotions. We invite readers to contemplate the implications of a future led by an emotionally intelligent generation, where empathy and self-awareness are valued as highly as academic prowess.

In crafting both the narrative and design, our goal is to inspire the content with playfulness and warmth, creating an inviting and shareable experience that also serves as an educational resource. 

Strategy and Execution

Our mission was clear: to elevate the real impact of Social Emotional Learning (SEL) for educators, students, and parents. We achieved this through creative storytelling and intelligent UX/UI design that showcases the benefits of prioritizing and normalizing emotional intelligence in the classroom for the mental health and growth of our students.

Approachability was foundational in our creative approach for this content. We wanted everyone to feel comfortable interacting with the “Meet Your Feelings Monster” component and downloadable sticker pack. To achieve this, we used a disarming and interesting visual like the Feelings Monster, rooted in meticulous design and deep research, to be both engaging and relatable. The child-like illustrations allow everyone to answer the simple question of, “How do you feel today?” with honesty and allows users to open their mind to the connection between a child's emotions and their learning. This colorful character isn't just a cute illustration – it's a reflection of the kids themselves, a buddy helping them navigate their emotions.

One standout feature is our custom “Meet Your Feelings Monster” component. It's like a bridge connecting users to the Feelings Monster. People get to pick emotions that hit close to home in the moment. This not only enhances Social Emotional Learning, but also lets folks see and connect with each other on a deeper level. The interaction in the componentry is playful and lets the audience explore not just themselves but also the people around them. Additionally, at the end of the article, readers are invited to download their “stickers” to share their monster feelings, extending the story and concepts beyond the page and out into the audience’s community of friends and family. The page's hues change based on the mood chosen in the interactive component. It's like giving the reader a personalized visual experience that vibes with their emotions at that moment.

Another powerful feature is the unique card interaction showcasing the emotional patterns of students. This gives a sneak peek into how the Microsoft Reflect tool has elevated emotional intelligence in the classroom, becoming a valuable support for teachers.


This story is one for the books, garnering immense engagement and resonance. Our objective was to simply raise awareness that further normalized emotional intelligence.

Research and testing showed that engagement increased exponentially after the launch of The Hidden Power of Feelings. We had found that we had an overwhelming increased rate of engagement by 80%, which we attribute to the custom interactive components. Readers found this story to be relatable and personally impactful. We consistently hear remarks by consumers that this story is a memorable highlight for the Unlocked platform, and we see qualitatively that this story sparks joy and delight creating positive impacts against key perceptions around Microsoft’s shared values and the role technology plays in improving society.

In dissecting these results, we found the execution of this story was a resounding success that elevated content in the right ways, allowed for readers to interact in unique and interesting ways, and let their emotions drive the design of the story through color shifts based on their own emotions.

As we celebrate the triumph of The Hidden Power of Feelings, we are reminded of the immense potential for positive change when we prioritize emotional intelligence. With each engagement and share, we move closer to realizing our vision where empathy and self-awareness are valued as essential tools for success and well-being.


Entrant Company / Organization Name

Instrument, Microsoft


Entry Credits