Case studyA platform for community health workers

Through easily accessible, up-to-date, visual content, the Boost app transforms the way community health workers (CHWs) educate those at risk of HIV in southern Africa.

The app was designed to support the educational work on HIV, sexual health, and COVID-19, provided by CHWs to millions of people living with, and at risk of HIV.

Boost has already reached over 15,000 people and 2021 will see the platform expand its reach further via a new chatbot service.

A new platform for community health workers

Boost is a Progressive Web App utilising modern frameworks



The project posed several technical challenges that had to be overcome. CHWs in Africa usually have very basic smartphones, intermittent internet connectivity, and high data costs limit their access. Overall technology literacy amongst users is low and, in most cases, English is their second language.

Key requirements included:

  • Can run on older smartphones
  • Adapt to significantly smaller screens
  • Simple UI for less technically literate users
  • Well optimised to allow fast load times
  • Works offline
  • Use Druapal CMS
  • Track usage (even when offline)
  • Easy to share content amongst users


User-centred design

As the product concept was a new experience for the target audience, I opted to build the app using a user-centred approach, where feedback was captured in the early stages of the development.

This allowed us to validate ideas and concepts early on in the process, and also to establish a core group of users for further testing and evaluation.

Boost was co-created with the active involvement of over 100 community health workers from Malawi, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

A new platform for community health workers


Phase 1: Defining the Value Proposition and Minimum Viable Product

The first phase focused on developing a clear definition of the product that had to be user validated, and then building an initial high-fidelity prototype to be used in the second phase.

This was delivered as a series of workshops aimed at defining the users’ problems and needs, and how Boost aims to solve these. To validate these assumptions, simple tests were designed. By developing a user journey map, we could identify how the user would interact with the app, which then lead to a roadmap of features for the building phase.
An important step was to establish a channel for testing and for feedback with prospective users. By engaging with them early on in the process, we were able to capture feedback and validate features as we progressed with the app. It also gave us an established group of early adopters whom we could offer the product to, once ready.

Delivered in phase 1:

  • - Product outline and working hypothesis
  • - User surveys and validation tests
  • - User journey map
  • - User flow and key screens
  • - Technology specification
A new platform for community health workers

Phase 2: Feedback loop: Build, Measure and Learn

A new platform for community health workers

In the second phase, I established a feedback loop. It works as a cycle, whereby we test the initial prototype with users, validate features and gather feedback in order to update and improve the product.

The feedback cycle involves the development of tests, validation by collecting data and direct feedback, which then feeds back into the design.

These cycles ran in two-weekly intervals, one week for testing and measurement, and the second week for updates on the build and a new release.

Through this iterative process we were able to establish a final list of features for the product launch, which were already user-validated.


Designing and building Boost as Richard did has meant that we have a flexible product that can be expanded and adapted to other areas of our work. His investment in us as an organisation and not just the limits of his specific brief has meant we got so much more from his time with us.

Sarah Hand
CEO, Avert
Product evolution

Since its launch the product has been evolving with new content and features. A WhatsApp chatbot, KaiIOS and native app versions are all launching in 2021.

Google Play

Web app features

Card-based UI
Content is delivered as collections of cards, including slideshows, quizzes, myth busters, and other learning tools
Progress tracking
Track you progress and units completed via the dashboard progress rings
Save cards or collections of cards to your favourites, and retrieve them later for revision
Share with others
Share content cards or collections of cards via WhatsApp

BoostBot - Chatbot service

The WhatsApp chatbot service uses Machine Learning to answer questions, and returns optimised Boost content from the same content management system that powers the web app.

A large number of Boost's target users have access to WhatsApp as it is the number one messaging app in southern Africa.

Machine Learning
The Bot learns over time by answering common questions about HIV and other related health questions and provides advice.
BoostBot API
The Boost API provides a simple way for BoostBot to retrieve content and distribute it to different apps.
BETA VERSION: Scan the QR code to try it out

Boost content delivery platform

Boost has been designed to provide a universal platform for the management and delivery of learning content, and to support popular platforms and use cases.

Statically generated
Providing faster loading times and optimum data for limited bandwidth in target countries.
Search Engine Optimised
The web app is well optimised for SEO with 100/100 lighthouse score.
Offline accessible
Works offline and provides asset download to browse the entire catalogue offline.
Installable PWA
The app can be installed on the device's home screen, and launched like a native app.
Monitoring and Evaluation
Real-time user monitoring and user progress tracking, even offline.
Mobile authentication
Users authenticate and log in, using their mobile number and security code.
Headless CMS
Integrates with headless Content Management Systems, including Drupal and Wordpress.
Jamstack architecture
The web app uses Jamstack architecture making it more secure, scaleable, and performant.

About me

Richard Stephens

Software developer, designer and entrepreneur with over 20 years of experience in product development, web and mobile apps. My passion lies in building new products and bringing new concepts to market. I have helped a number of companies, from multinationals and NGOs to start-ups, launch new products.

I am a full-stack developer specialising in modern mobile and web frameworks including React, React Native, Next.js and Meteor. I also have extensive knowledge and experience with other frameworks, such as Ionic, Laravel, Drupal, and Wordpress.

I offer a complete end-to-end product development service from concept to launch and beyond.


"Richard worked with me at WWF’s Heart of Borneo Initiative on an engaging Facebook application campaign in support of our social media out-reach activities. His willingness to listen and respond to our needs was crucial, as were his timely analytical insights, in making our application an innovative and impactful success."

Chris Greenwood
Chris Greenwood
International Communications Manager, WWF HOBGI
Incredible Oceans

"Our impact as a non-profit has grown hugely as a direct result of Richard’s work. We created the world’s largest whale festival, a global alliance of marine orgs, education projects, video content, and more. His web and digital development skills, organisation over-view and strategic advice have been, frankly, invaluable."

Ian Rowlands
Ian Rowlands
Director, Incredible Oceans & Siren Calling

Ready to build something?