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Smile! Children's Charity Launch App

We have been working with superstar local charity Nelson’s Journey to bring back smiles to bereaved children.

Whilst chatting with their youth panel, the Norfolk-based charity stumbled upon a brainwave app idea which has received support from BBC Children In Need. The app is targeted at bereaved children, as a way of dealing with their grief. Nelson’s Journey do fantastic work with children of all ages, and know that each individual deals with the loss of a loved one in his or her own way; and their team work to tailor their services to the needs of those children and teens. Nelson’s Journey were keen for the app to work in the same way - offering a range of support.

A great deal of teamwork and planning has gone into scoping this app, and Selestians have loved working side by side with Nelson’s Journey and their youth panel - a group of 11-17 year olds who have been paramount in this process.

Now, we are pleased to say, the ‘Smiles and Tears’ app is live!

Meticulous Planning And Adding Sparkle

From early in the planning stages Nelson’s Journey had a clear idea of what they wanted from their app, making them a breeze to work with! (Discover more about the background and thoughts behind their app in our last post, here.)

Their succinct vision allowed the Selesti team to do what they do best, bringing a creative idea to life! By crafting the app’s design, and working and reworking the user experience we achieved a look and UX which Nelson’s Journey loved:

“The designers seem to have grasped the look and feel that we wanted to achieve for the app, it is young person friendly and is clearly targeted towards those users. This shows that Selesti understand the user audience and how to produce a design that will appeal to them.”

Thorough User Testing

To mock-up their app idea we used prototyping tool InVision which allowed the youth panel to click through the designs as if they were a fully working app. This gave us near-instant feedback (all managed online through the platform), allowing us to tweak the app to perfection at a very early stage!

The youth panel were at the forefront of the refining process, and Nelson’s Journey benefitted greatly from their thorough usability testing sessions.

This is not to say the app creation and build were hiccup-free, we certainly fine-tuned along on the way. For example, we deferred from the original plans, as we were keen to build the iOS and Android apps simultaneously so as that they could be released in sync.

Key Features Of The Smiles And Tears App

The app is a way for youngsters to remember and process the loss of a friend or family member. Nelson’s Journey felt that the app being designed for multiple uses was an important feature, as the unfortunate reality is that some children are grieving for more than one person.

Upon downloading the app the user is prompted to fill in a Q&A about their loved one(s) - their name, and key facts about them, as well as details of their favourite memories. This can then be revisited and added to within the ‘Remembering a Loved One’ section of the app. Set up complete, the user is met with a simple dashboard:


Inspired by activities Nelson’s Journey run for children and young people, there is the option to release a virtual balloon (‘letting go’ of sad feelings) as well as a virtual memory jar, where the user can add notes to a jar which they can come back to and read from time to time. We have animated each of these features, truly bringing the app to life for the youngster using it - the balloon release background even changes based on the time of day!

For special occasions, such as the loved one’s birthday, there is a ‘Send A Gift’ feature which allows the user to send a virtual present complete with a note. What’s more, each activity is logged in their in-app diary, where they can also add journal entries, thoughts and feelings.

Nelson’s Journey know that grief affects individuals in different ways, which is why they have an in-app FAQ section too, with a range of guidance to help the bereaved youngster understand their emotions. Inspirational quotes are accessible via a lightbulb icon present on each screen, when pressed an encouraging statement is displayed to encourage the user to move forward positively. Also on the homepage is a clickable Childline logo which opens their contact phone number, and web address details.

Within the virtual diary, users have to tag an emotion connected to their entry e.g. angry, sad, happy. Once their entry is submitted the app responds with a tip of how best to manage that feeling or encourage it if it is positive.

A Bit About The Tech Spec

The app has been built with our very own CMS HQ which links to the app via an API. This allows the team at Nelson’s Journey to easily edit and add to the content of the app, without too much specialist know-how!

From here they can add gifts to the ‘Send A Gift’ section of the app, and add to the Frequently Asked Questions section, keeping the app fresh for users! The team at Nelson’s Journey are really enjoying using and content managing their app, and they have nothing but lovely things to say about us, which is always nice.

“We have a Project Manager at Selesti who is our main point of contact, she is aware of the project status at all times and is able to answer any queries we might have. If she doesn’t know the answer one of the Selesti team will and she always gets back to us promptly if we have a specific question. It is helpful to have an Account Manager who is on hand to translate technical terms. If you are an organisation or individual new to anything digital it can be overwhelming however Selesti make the ride just that little less stressful!” - Sophie Berry, Nelson’s Journey

The app is live NOW! So download for free here -

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