EncourageMe: A Shiny App for Encouragement

data science
web programming

Tinashe M. Tapera


September 22, 2018

During my time at Drexel, I volunteered on the University’s Peer Counseling Helpline. Being a peer counselor teaches you a multitude of important conversational and relational skills in what’s called active listening, and one of the most effective ones is encouragement. As you can guess, an encouragement in active listening involves conveying to the caller that their efforts, whatever they may be, are not in vain. Used appropriately, it can be a powerful tool for helping callers process their problems.

Ironically, I only learned exactly how effective they could be when someone was kind enough to use them with me. Earlier this year, a close friend1 went through the trouble of handwriting a bunch of encouragements for me when I was struggling to keep up with thesis work, research, classes, depression/anxiety, job search, and everything else that was happening in life at the time. After pulling myself out of that difficult period, I decided to return the favour by building an RShiny app that she (or anybody else) could use if they ever needed some encouragement.

The app is hosted by R Studio at shinyapps.io, but I’ve embedded it below:

Tech Specs

The app itself is very simple: on launch, it reads in a file of quotes I hand picked, and simply samples one every time you hit the action button.

Web programming with RShiny gets more and more intersting every time you do it. I highly recommend it to anybody who has experience with R and wants to grow. RShiny allows you to write all of your basic application/dashboard functionality in R, and then when you want to spice it up, you can get your hands dirty (slowly) with HTML and CSS pretty seamlessly. In this app, I made aesthetic modifications (like the fonts and footer), but with web programming your only limitations are your imagination, and determination to make it work! You can examine the code on Github.


  1. This “friend” is now my wife. Go figure!↩︎