Playe is a startup, video production agency targeting the growing demand for high volume, lower budget media content. The company maintains quality while keeping fixed costs low by contracting with creatives from their globally curated network. Key to success is a bespoke digital platform that standardizes workflows and communication for all projects, allowing fully remote project teams to focus on what they do best: creative work. Playe has been profitable since launch.

As design principal at Imua Studio, I led the design, development and launch of the digital platform, brand identity and agency marketing site. The role combined hands-on design with workshop facilitation and product management.

The general approach to product development outlined here is typical of most Imua Studio projects.


Video Is Medium of Choice for Content and Ads

Online video advertising was a $61 BN industry in 2020 increasing 18% every year. Two thirds of advertisers say video continues to offer higher ROI than other formats.

Digital, Global Audiences Enjoy Localized Content

65% of consumers prefer content in their local language, but to build brand loyalty, translation alone isn’t enough. Localization means content in local settings and with local actors speaking to local interests.

Remote Enables Creatives To Work from Anywhere

With 70% of companies adopting a hybrid model, remote working is here to stay. Talent can work from anywhere or even be from anywhere. Hire local, when shooting global.


Traditional Video Agency Model Can’t Scale to Meet Volume while Keeping Quality High and Costs Low

Traditional agencies have fixed overheads that keep production costs high. Their resources, skills, and creativity are limited to the creators in their network. It is expensive and difficult to shoot in multiple locations globally.

The high-level solution? A lean, digital-first agency that sources team members on-demand from a global talent pool. This model allows the agency to assemble the best team for any job. Shooting in Brazil? Hire a videographer based in Sao Paulo. Need fantasy storytelling? Bring on an animator from Tokyo. A diversity of talent keeps ideas fresh and locally relevant. It also keeps fixed costs low for the agency – dialing up or down resources according to market demand.

This model isn’t without its challenges. Relying on a temporary workforce that’s fully remote and globally located makes it harder to retain top talent and maintain quality. In lieu of steady salaries, the agency can offer competitive hourly pay, interesting work, flexible hours, and internal processes that make work enjoyably efficient. Standardized internal processes are also key to maintaining quality. If everyone sticks to a proven script for project management, quality can consistently be delivered.

The video production process is inherently complex and iterative. It involves several key stakeholders:

  1. Brand (client) Team
  2. Producer (project manager)
  3. Creatives (production members like screenwriters, shooters, editors, etc.)

Through expert interviews, we identified the core problems for each stakeholder:


  • Access to affordable content
  • Limited creative pool
  • Geographically bound


  • Creates project quotes manually
  • Time consuming to find niche talent
  • Email chains and phone calls


  • Not enough work
  • Don't have access to big brands
  • Don't want to spend time on sales


How might a digital platform help producers focus on the brand and creatives instead of the process itself?


Journey Mapping, Risk Identification and Scope Check 1

Using the service blueprint we mapped out the desired experiences and interdependencies for each stakeholder. In order to keep users’ larger goals (jobs-to-be-done) in mind, every experience begins and ends outside the service. For example, a brand member’s journey begins in a chic brand office when it’s determined a video is necessary for an upcoming advertising campaign. It ends when the same member enthusiastically recommends the service after the video’s high viewer engagement was a runaway success.

For each journey we identify and brainstorm around potential pain points or magic moments. A pain point is a problem in the experience that hinders a user’s goal, jeopardizes a service business objective, or is technically difficult to overcome. A magic moment is an outcome in the experience worth celebrating with the user, particularly if it highlights significant value unique to the service.

A snapshot of the service journey

Prototyping, User Testing and Scope Check 2

Wireframes are drawn up in Figma according to the user stories and features outlined in the service blueprint. While initial thought is given to critical interactions, our design efforts are concentrated on the overall flow, layout, and content. We intentionally use Balsamiq-styled components because their sketchy, drawn-by-hand appearance ensures the overall experience is the focus both while we design and again when test users provide feedback.

Wireframes are linked together to create a clickable, low-resolution prototype. Relevant language and example data are woven in to convey a believable narrative for an authentic experience. to save time the narrative and wireframes are constructed simultaneously.

User testing is a two part process conducted separately with real stakeholders: one brand lead, three producers, and one creatives. First, the tester answers questions regarding background, role, workflows and pain points. Second, she personally navigates the clickable prototype to complete a preassigned task, verbalizing any internal thoughts or feelings. All tests are recorded with permission.

Clickable Prototype
Clickable Prototype for Testing

Interaction Design and Scope Check 3

Final screens are designed in Figma, careful to ensure final interactions are technically viable considering the development timeline and approach. At Imua Studio we build all our web apps using a no-code tool called Bubble.io.

We and the Playe team regroup for one last scope check before everything gets baked into a development contract. This conversation is always the most difficult because the final design inevitably includes a little more than originally intended for two reasons:

  1. Complexity is revealed when you increase the resolution of an experience, and
  2. New ideas come up when you gain a deeper understanding of the problem.

This is the nature of creative problem solving, and while it might feel like building it all right now is the best thing to do, it usually isn’t. Sure budget and timeline are usually the deciding factors, but risk is another. We like to remind entrepreneurs that prototype validation, while invaluable, isn’t a perfect indicator of market success. You’ll get somethings right and others will miss the mark. In the end you’ll want enough budget and timeline remaining to iterate and improve. If launch goes well, you already have a back log of what to build next.

We presented three scope options to the Play team: small, medium, and large. They went for medium.

Development and Testing

As mentioned above, we build web apps using the no-code tool Bubble, which allows us to build without using traditional code (unless custom script is easier or necessary for a component). It’s faster because you’re using Bubble’s robust component library, and cheaper because it doesn’t require competing with tech giants for software engineers. Depending on it’s complexity, a no-code app might be a long-term solution, but often it’s an advantageous stopgap till market validation and revenue warrants splashing the cash on a custom build.

We break down development into milestones that generally correspond to the service’s sequence of events. In some cases we strategically front-load items that are technically difficult or uncertain. This affords much appreciated time for discovering alternative solutions should the original approach prove impractical. We test the app internally at the end of each milestone before handing it over to the Playe team for additional testing and final approval.

Branding and Marketing Site Workshop

In parallel with app design and development, we facilitated several workshops with the Playe team in order to: 1) explore and define brand identity and 2) determine key messaging and imagery for the marketing site.

Brand Workshop Exercises
Logo Iterations (Playe was originally Prodo)


Playe: The Digital-First Agency Powered by a Global Creator Network

A Global Network of Freelance Creatives

Creativity has no limits with access to vetted, best in class talent from all over the world and your backyard – any skill, any time, any where.


A Purposeful, Seamless Worfklow

From creation of the client brief to reviewing the final deliverables, the platform makes it easy to complete standardized processes.


Everything In One Place

A single source of truth for all deliverables, assets, project specs, tasks, and comments.


Brand Guidelines

The overall brand excudes a creative and youthful sophistication. Deliverables include persona, logo, name, icons, typography, UI kit, imagery, and swag.

A Few Pages from the Brand Guidelines Booklet

Marketing Site

Custom website designed in Figma and built in Webflow.

A Portion of the Landing Page (visit playe.pro to see more)

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