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How to build an educational web app to encourage behaviour change

31 August 2021

Insight gathering not only allows you to develop a greater awareness of your audience and their needs, but it can also end up illuminating opportunities for change to engage and educate simultaneously. This insight can then be used to deliver exactly what your audience needs – sometimes even within one platform.

In June 2021, CoppaFeel! launched our very first educational web app The Self-Checkout, designed with functionality and features to create behaviour change and to encourage young people to feel confident checking their chests. As a breast cancer charity this was an important behavioural change project that we are super proud of – this is how we did it and what we learnt.

The importance of gathering insight

Although the Self-Checkout was developed in a matter of months, the insight gathering and concept creation started back in 2019. We didn’t intentionally set out to build the educational platform. Instead, we wanted to gain a deeper understanding of what was driving the responses in our annual research around young women’s attitudes and behaviours towards breast cancer and checking.

Working with a research partner Common Collective, the aim was to not only learn more about young women’s behaviours but to identify opportunities for change. We carried this out using online focus groups with young women aged 15-29. The decision was taken to host these online, even before the world was forced to turn virtual. We wanted to create a safe space with anonymity to encourage greater openness when discussing personal and potentially awkward topics of bodies, boobs, self-checking and breast cancer.

The results enabled us to create our first Journey to Checking map, which identified the stages and range of motivators and barriers to becoming a motivated, regular checker. This allowed us to identify the need we wanted to address and the best opportunity to intervene.

The most significant finding was that simply being aware of the guidance of self-checking did not necessarily motivate someone to start checking regularly. We discovered that young women needed the right amount of knowledge and more importantly confidence in order to change their behaviour. This became our problem to solve – how can we build knowledge and confidence alongside each other to encourage young people to start getting to know their chests.

Building The Self-Checkout

Before landing on a digital tool as a way to encourage behaviour change, we explored many different options through workshops with various stakeholders. We settled on a web app, as we were keen to build something that was simple to access for all and could evolve alongside the changing needs of our beneficiaries. The arrival of the pandemic only confirmed that a digital solution was the right path to take.

At this stage, Common Collective designed two concepts, which were tested via face to face focus groups and pre/post surveys, with females aged 18-24 years old who were infrequent non-checkers. Their feedback was taken on board and the wireframe for The Self-Checkout was born – here’s an early prototype.

The feedback we received ensured all features were focused around driving the desired behaviours (starting to check, practicing checking and continuing to do so). As a result, we added practical features such as a downloadable checklist and extended our monthly reminder service from SMS to calendar and email reminders. We also removed features that didn’t add value, such as the option to share checking tips with our community. This simplified and streamlined the experience.

Just as we were ready to start building the tool the pandemic hit, causing us to suspend, pause and adapt our service delivery. It then became a team effort to get this project up and running again. Working with the fundraising team, we were able to secure a grant to continue developing the tool. Thanks to the support of the Government and the National Lottery Community Fund, we were able to resume the project in October 2020 with a punchy deadline to have the tool built by the end of March 2020.

We got straight to work, putting the brief out to tender and interviewing a range of agencies with different strengths. We appointed an agency called Miroma Project Factory, who shared our passion for behaviour change. They helped us to shape the concept even further, adding extra value such as an onboarding experience. It became a collaborative effort between staff in the marketing and education team to work closely with the agency to get this project turned around in five months.

Key reflections

  1. Consider accessibility early on in concept development
    We wanted to make the tool accessible and inclusive, as although our main target audience was young women, we know breast cancer can affect all genders. We built in an option to personalise the language used throughout the tool and paid attention to the imagery and colours that were used. However, we weren’t able to develop this as far as we would have liked due to budget and time constraints.
  2. Ensure evaluation mechanisms don’t take away from the user experience
    Impact measurement was a key consideration for us throughout this project to ensure we stay true to our values and deliver for our audience. We continued to ensure that impact measurement was discussed constantly and that mechanisms were in place to allow us to measure success without compromising the experience of the user.

    We will be tracking the engagement using Google Analytics, but most importantly we will be tracking our key behaviour change indicators, including sign ups to our monthly reminder services and the Get Going Guide, alongside the self-reported checking counter. We removed the user confidence survey after we received feedback in focus groups that it would be ignored.
  3. Capture future ambitions throughout the development stage
    It is never too early to start thinking about future development plans. We have been capturing the conversations and feedback throughout the project that reflect where we would like to take this project in the future.

The Self-Checkout has allowed us to create an adaptable, interactive space to educate young people about an important topic in an accessible and relevant way. Having a one-stop platform that works to build knowledge and confidence adds value across the organisation to support volunteers, staff and partners to deliver on our mission of ensuring breast cancer is diagnosed early and accurately.

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Banner Image: Pratham Kumar on Unsplash

Sophie Dopierala-Bull

director of education & health comms, CoppaFeel!

Sophie is responsible for leading on service delivery, health communications and impact measurement at CoppaFeel!. She has worked at the charity for seven years, and was previously involved as a volunteer before joining the team.