Needs-based persona project for National Literacy Trust

We captured user needs and created actionable personas and User Experience recommendations with immediate actions for the charity.

Client: The National Literacy Trust
Sector: Charity
Websites: and
Services: User researchCRO (heuristics), Content, Analytics and dataDesign

We delivered needs-based personas accompanied by research with immediate actions to help the National Literacy Trust understand its audience and improve user experience. We used a blend of research methods to uncover crucial insights about the National Literacy Trust’s audiences and the current digital experience.

Using our findings, we created a set of evidenced needs-based personas along with recommendations to improve the user experience immediately.

Key project outcomes

Headshot of Antonio Upali

We worked with Fresh Egg earlier to refresh our user personas and to conduct a UX review of our websites. The team were fantastic to work with, incredibly knowledgeable and skilled at guiding us through the process. We are implementing many of the recommendations already and have a clear path forward for our websites experience. Anecdotally colleagues commented that the workshops were really productive and hugely collaborative.

Antonio Upali, Head of Digital, National Literacy Trust

The challenge

The National Literacy Trust aim to raise literacy levels across the UK, working with the most disadvantaged communities.

The organisation currently operates two websites:

  1. - focuses on supporting educational settings
  2. - focuses on supporting parents and families

The team suspected that information and content were hard to find for users and that the two domains caused some potential confusion.

Their goal was to learn how their core audience groups interact with the websites to understand their needs better and establish if they satisfy them while seeking improvement opportunities, particularly around content and conversion.

While some original personas existed, there was a desire to validate and update these to build a consistent understanding of the National Literacy Trust's key audience groups.

The project brief was:

To conduct user experience research with The National Literacy Trust's primary audiences.

The findings from the research will be used to refine and develop new audience personas, as well as highlighting recommendations to improve user experience across the two websites.

Headshot of Jake

It has been a brilliantly rewarding project to work on. The National Literacy Trust team have been terrific to work with, very knowledgeable and collaborative. It has been interesting to see how the literacy needs of the various teacher and parent audience groups evolved throughout the project to produce a set of needs-based personas. Personas are a concise way of curating the research findings for longevity and actionable use across the charity. These personas, coupled with the UX recommendations report should provide the National Literacy Trust team with important artefacts and roadmap for a more user-centred approach.

Jake Lambert, Head of Conversion Services

Our solution

Research and discovery

We commenced the project with a stakeholder workshop using empathy and journey mapping exercises to capture stakeholder knowledge of their audiences and the current user experience.

To help us create the best possible outputs, we also took the opportunity to understand more about the charity and how they wanted to use personas in their work.

Armed with this knowledge, we began participant recruitment of six teachers (from a mix of educational settings) and six parents (across a range of demographics). In parallel, we analysed various heatmaps and web analytics quantitative datasets to understand the focus areas of our research across the two sites.

Across 12 one-hour sessions, we conducted audience interviews to learn more about their literacy needs. Then, we observed the participants undertaking tasks to understand how they interacted with the two websites.

Armed with our user needs and pain point findings, we conducted a heuristic review of both websites to identify areas of friction and opportunity.

Finally, we pulled all our research and analysis together to create our outputs:

  1. An evidence-based report of user insights and prioritised UX recommendations. The findings included video clips from user interviews to illustrate user friction points, our recommendations for immediate UX changes, and further research.
  2. A set of six key audience needs-based personas. Distilling all the research findings into user stories and various user attributes allowed us to develop a strong set of personas to help the National Literacy Trust team.

Headshot of Callum Grantham

It’s been fantastic to work with the team at the National Literacy Trust, learning about their work and the people they help.

The team were fully engaged with us throughout the project, and that helped us create personas and recommendations that will really help them and their users.

Callum Grantham Content Director

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Headshot of Charlotte Parker

It was an absolute pleasure working with the National Literacy Trust; their extensive knowledge and active participation during our stakeholder workshop played a crucial role in understanding and empathising with their audiences. Speaking to teachers and parents and understanding their fundamental need for suitable and easily available resources, highlighted the significant value that the outcomes of this project would bring to both the charity and its target groups.

Charlotte Parker, Senior User Researcher

The outcome

While the personas, in particular, will be a valuable long-term asset, the project also gave immediate benefits to the team at the National Literacy Trust, including:

Prioritisation: A clear roadmap for iterative website improvement that will improve their users' experience in the short and longer term.

Cost efficiencies: By better understanding the user's needs and interaction with their websites, the team were able to produce a longer-term website/s strategy.

Artefacts: A set of needs-based personas to immediately help the charity ensure its work aligns with its audiences' needs. The personas will serve as a vital aid to help shape future work across the charity, from online content creation to events.

We delivered the project in March 2023, and at the time of publishing, the National Literacy Trust are busy planning the activity schedule to implement the report's recommendations.

We are now undertaking a new research project with another team at the National Literacy Trust based on a referral from the group we worked with on this project.


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