When Catchpoint, a unified platform for monitoring digital experiences, acquired WebPageTest in 2020, the team wanted to better understand WebPageTest’s users. After all, visitors of all kinds could visit webpagetest.org, enter their URLs, and get an idea of how their website was performing.
The site was seeing a ton of traffic and the WebPageTest team had recently begun offering a paid model– an API option where WebPageTest could be seamlessly integrated into a developer’s workflow for a fee.
But to ensure the premium product was widely understood and accepted, the team wanted a better understanding of WebPageTest’s users. How was WebPageTest getting integrated into workflows? Whose workflows? Who else was using WebPageTest in the same team or company? And out of that group, who was most likely to take advantage of the premium offering?
Jeena James, EVP & General Manager at WebPageTest, turned to Best Buyer Persona for help. The BBP team jumped in to understand the goals of the WebPageTest acquisition, strategically interviewed its users, and developed a series of user personas that could help Catchpoint better market WebPageTest and its premium offering.
“The best part about Best Buyer Persona is that they never go radio silent. Throughout the process of working together, they came back and checked in with insights on what was working well and what wasn’t. They will try to make your life easier and be as efficient as possible.” -Jeena James, EVP & General Manager, WebPageTest (Catchpoint)
A multitude of users – but who are they?
WebPageTest had a unique situation problem: tons of visitors running millions of tests per getting value from the product. They knew it was helping all their users but didn’t know which teams/roles, beyond what was shared by their users on social platforms or support channels. Any visitor– from a front-end developer building the webpages to someone creating content for an e-commerce site to a team building a new SaaS product– could visit WebPageTest and get an idea of how their website was performing.
This model had worked well for years, but as the team continued to build and offer enhanced and premium offerings to WebPageTest users, they needed a better understanding of who the users were, why they turned to WebPageTest, and how the tool fits into their workflow. This understanding would not only help the team market the premium offerings but would also help inform them on what to build in the future.
The team had some understanding of their users but wanted an objective third party to do some digging and provide a clear picture of who was using the product and what jobs they most commonly used it for.
“We understood what our users were doing at a macro-level: where they were coming from and what sites they were testing. But we didn’t have a good idea of how users were integrating the tool into their daily workflow. We had assumptions, but we needed to understand how the product was used at a micro-level.” Jeena James, EVP & General Manager, WebPageTest (Catchpoint)
A partnership with Best Buyer Persona to better understand users
Jeena had worked with BBP in a previous role and was impressed with what she saw. In particular, she saw how the team’s ability to dig in to ask the right questions about how a product gets used, which resulted in the uncovering of valuable insights.
So, when WebPageTest released its premium offering and wanted a better understanding of user behavior, Jeena called on the BBP team. They decided to work together on a Buyer Persona Strategy with the aim of creating a set of personas based on how users were getting value from WebPageTest.
“When I met Adrienne, I saw how well she could grasp what the platform was trying to do, the problems it was solving, and why it provided value to the customer. She was able to distill the information she collected into clear, crisp stories that the rest of the organization could understand.” -Jeena James, EVP & General Manager, WebPageTest (Catchpoint)
The BBP team interviewed 20 WebPageTest users across different industries and work experiences, sat down with key stakeholders (such as the Catchpoint CEO, WebPageTest’s founder, and the director of developer experience engineering to name a few), combed through prior survey results, and conducted a new survey of hundreds of developers to gain a better understanding of WebPageTest users.
A set of user personas to propel marketing, sales, and product development
Thanks to the partnership with BBP, WebPageTest now has well-developed user personas, based on the jobs-to-be-done framework, that can be used in their marketing and sales efforts. They are also able to build on top of this learning and keep it updated as the product and the offerings evolve.
A synthesized overview of users through the lens of jobs-to-be-done
BBP was able to create user personas through the lens of jobs-to-be-done. That is, BBP, synthesized insights from customer research into a digestible format that could be shared throughout the organization. These insights could then be used by multiple teams for sales, marketing, and product development efforts.
A better understanding of users who are likely to opt for premium services
For many years, WebPageTest was a free service, offered to any visitor who plugged in a URL. When Catchpoint acquired WebPageTest, they committed to maintaining the richness of the open-source platform with all the insights and wanted to provide additional, feature-rich both free and premium offerings so that developers could better integrate WebPageTest into their workflows and take action on improving the web performance. But to make this pivot and successfully market to this audience, the team needed user personas, which BBP provided.
An ongoing user research practice that will support growth
Jeena and the rest of the WebPageTest team don’t see buyer personas as a one-and-done effort. As the company and product grow and change, they’ll need to revisit who is using it and who is seeing value. Thanks to BBP, they have the foundational framework to continue these efforts today and into the future.