The Porsche of awards programmes with community at its heart

21 June, 2022
The Porsche of awards programmes with community at its heart | News | Pause Awards
Nikita Lamba, writer contributor
Nikita Lamba
21 June, 2022

When it comes to growth, there are rebrands, and then there are rebirths. The new avatar of Pause Awards can be deemed more of the latter.

Given the launch of a whole new website experience that’s unparalleled to any other awards programme, we wanted to dig deeper into the moments that led to it. And so, we caught up with George Hedon, Founder & CEO of Pause Awards, and Rory Dalton, the Designer and Developer of the swanky new website you’re reading this on.

Check out excerpts from our conversation below:

George, we’re so curious to know the rationale behind this rebirth? What made you think, “Pause Awards means serious business. And it’s time to show that in each and every way, including our design?”

There are many reasons why companies go through rebrands. In our situation, Pause Awards was running off the old Pause Fest website that was no longer in operation, so we needed a new domain and website to start with. We’d also learned a lot in the past 4 years of operation in terms of what works, and what more we’d like to build into our product. And that’s what drove our shift.

Given that we decided to build something new, the list quickly extended to include quite a lot of points to make sure that we had the best product on the market, and the most unique one too. We needed a distinct point of difference to lift the game so that we could be seen as a ‘we mean real business’ awards programme for all kinds of businesses – right from the enterprise down to startups. Our sweet spot however has been the medium-sized business space which sort of overlaps with startups and large businesses, so the website and the product was built with that strategy in mind.

Another point to add here is the ‘Ecosystem Business Awards’ positioning we were after. This meant that we had to bring in a lot more categories to recognise businesses that hadn’t necessarily done before, and we had to help people navigate through all those categories too. That’s how the Category Tracks came about.

It all came from addressing the ‘why and what’ and by fixing the issues our customers were facing. Everything was centred around our champions, the winners, and we wanted to address their needs so that everyone would have a great experience.

Be it landing on our website, understanding how to enter and nominate, ascertain the judging process or simply navigating the stacks of resources – I feel as though we finally have it all well explained and in one place. We want every site visitor to be able to find what they need, help them enter, and promote and support them with thought-leading articles.

It’s no doubt that the design and the experience of the website plays a big part, but the functionality carries far more significance because we needed these new key features to define our brand, deliver better user experience and reflect a modern and superior awards programme for the best in class.

Pause Awards 2021, product shoot, trophy collection design, lifestyle shoot, porsche

How have you approached the launch of this new website differently? Any out-of-the-box tactics and innovative aspects you could let us in on?

There’s definitely been a huge shift in our approach to the build – the way everything has come together to bring this new platform to life can definitely be seen as disruptive. I definitely think it’s the most innovative award platform out there – and I can’t wait to see its impact.

The big emphasis for us this year is the newsroom that allows for the share-of-voice with winners, judges and ambassadors which is something I have not seen other award platforms do. There is immense power in user generated content, and we’re looking to harness that for our community. We’re opening the doors to the community to share their opinions, knowledge and insights. This has been a key part of our strategy.

We’re also launching Australia’s first ‘SM’ which I can’t talk about until it launches in July, but we’ll do some press about it so we can get on the media radar as well, so keep your eyes peeled!

And of course, how could I not mention our partners in crime, Floodlight Content, who came up with the concepts for a couple of our new brand videos, one of which I’m starring in as well.

We’re hoping that this direct reach out to our community members will resonate with them and the wider business ecosystem. There’s definitely strength in numbers, and we can’t wait to see our community of champions grow.

And last but definitely not the least, we also have our new Pause Awards Trophy NFT design, and we’re working with a new 3D Designer to create them. We’re the world’s first award platform to offer Trophy NFT to all winners – it’s pretty damn cool.

What would you say is your North Star when it comes to Pause Awards?

The North Star for Pause Awards is to become the national industry standard for awarding business innovation in Australia. Think about it this way – the world has its Cannes LIONS, Webby’s and Effies – the most prestigious and well-recognised platforms for creativity and marketing.
It only makes sense that there be a platform to award the best in tech and innovation – and that’s precisely what Pause Awards is here to do.

Pause Awards, website design, branding, digital, word press

Rory, you’ve played the most pivotal part in bringing this website to life. How did you approach this project though? We want to know more about the product, the tech, the design and UX, all of it!

This project was a behemoth! But I can pin down two main factors that contributed towards all design and development decisions for the site:

First consideration was how the site was going to look & function for users. I wanted to design something that was contemporary, functional and presented content in a palatable way. The site is influenced by traditional editorial-style designs and layouts and for the most part, we kept it really simple – grid, typography and imagery. At the same time, it was important to deliver something that had a modern streak to it – Pause Awards celebrates innovation & technology as much as it does traditional areas like corporate excellence. It was about finding a marriage between classic and contemporary – paying homage to the history of business while honouring innovation and challenging the status quo.

The second big driving factor was developing a flexible CMS solution that scaled with Pause Awards – this meant going modular. We went with WordPress’ Gutenberg Editor for a couple of reasons, the main one being that it would allow Pause Awards full control over content creation and editing post-launch without the need for a developer. All the modules are designed to be layout agnostic and can be arranged in a number of ways without disrupting the intended design of the page.

And what were the more challenging aspects of the build?

The challenge here was designing something flexible while keeping the layout interesting. The site needed to house a lot of content, it was really important to find that balance between curiosity and legibility. There is a lot of user-generated content so we also had to consider how the layout would be affected if profiles did not have every content area populated. Overall there are around 60 custom modules which can be reused and rearranged as required.

Being able to easily digest content was the most important factor so animation and motion played more of a supporting role so as not to overwhelm or dominate the user experience – just some small touches to add polish to the overall feel.

For those who’re keen to nerd out to this bit – we used PJAX for speed and performance across the site for page transitions and there are minimal dependencies used to keep the codebase as lightweight as possible. The main one being Swiper JS which is used for the carousels. Everything else is built into the site – no WP plugins, frameworks, themes or anything like that.

At the end of the day, the site is performing really well across key metrics which is great.

You can’t leave us without sharing what the most rewarding part of this project has been for you!

The most rewarding thing for me has been delivering a project of this scale in a relatively short amount of time as a freelancer. It would have been nice to have a few more hours of sleep along the way, but it’s been great working with George and I’m really happy with how the site has turned out. The most rewarding projects are the larger ones – they challenge you the most and you become so much more invested in them by virtue of sheer time and effort dedicated to the outcome. This is important for me when it comes to taking on projects, and I have thoroughly enjoyed this one.

Our new website truly is a thing of beauty (if we may say so ourselves.)
But the question is, which page are you going to visit next?

Let Pause Awards tell your story
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Pause Awards Night
2023 Years Summary page is here
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Category tracks

The Culture track seeks entries that exemplify the development of an inclusive and collaborative workplace culture, crucial for organisational success and growth. Submissions should illustrate transformative strategies implemented across core business functions, reflecting expertise, leadership, and a clear vision. These strategies should demonstrate a positive impact on the business, its employees, stakeholders, and customers, showcasing how a nurturing culture contributes to overall growth and innovation.

The Excellence track celebrates businesses that have demonstrated remarkable success and impact within their industry, regardless of their size. Entries for this category should illustrate how the business's strategic execution, guided by visionary leadership and exceptional expertise, has significantly influenced the industry. The focus will be on the tangible outcomes of these strategies, highlighting the company's ability to innovate, lead, and leave a lasting impression in its field.

The Good track is focused on recognising companies dedicated to their mission of creating a positive societal impact. Entries should highlight innovative solutions aimed at addressing global challenges such as environmental sustainability, social equity, and community well-being. Successful submissions will demonstrate how their initiatives contribute to significant changes, tackling issues like gender inequality, social imbalance, and injustice, thereby setting a precedent for responsible and impactful business practices.

Awarded to a single entry in a category, Grand Prix is the top accolade in that category. To win the Grand Prix, the entire Judging Board must unanimously agree that the entry deserves the accolade of being the best in that category.

The Growth track is about showcasing how businesses have enhanced productivity and execution to make a significant impact in their market. Entries should highlight innovative strategies that have optimised the customer journey, leading to increased engagement and commercial success. This track is for those who have effectively used their understanding of the market and customer needs to scale their business and achieve notable growth.

The Operators track seeks entries that showcase leadership in fostering innovation within their ecosystems. Ideal submissions will highlight how your initiatives have catalysed the creation of new products or services, bolstered by a culture that uplifts internal teams and the wider community. This track celebrates those who drive progress by empowering voices and forging transformative connections in their industry.


  • Always Evolving New

    Acknowledges a culture of continuous learning and improvement within a company, encourages employee development, and always looks for ways to optimise and innovate operations.

  • Big & Mighty Culture New

    Recognises companies (51-1000 employees) for their exceptional efforts in cultivating a culture that champions innovation.

  • Diverse Co.

    Celebrates workplaces dedicated to fostering innovation through a vibrant tapestry of diverse talents and perspectives.

  • Small & Mighty Culture New

    Applauds small teams of fewer than 50 employees for their remarkable ability to foster innovation and set new benchmarks in their domain.

  • Work Sweet Work

    Acknowledges companies that have achieved extraordinary employee engagement, satisfaction, and retention, creating an exemplary workplace culture.

  • Company of the Year

    Honours an outstanding company that not only showcases exemplary leadership and resilience but also demonstrates a clear, quantifiable impact over the past year.

  • Customer Obsessed New

    Applauds prioritisation, understanding and meeting the needs and expectations of their customers, including feedback, personalised services and ensuring high satisfaction.

  • Defiant Ones

    Recognises firms that lead technological innovation, setting new standards and defining the future of their industries.

  • Hammer

    Celebrates companies that have not only defined success on their own terms but have also concretely demonstrated their triumphs over the past year.

  • I Wish I'd Done That

    Applauds ingenious, simple solutions in niche markets that spark a universal sentiment of admiration.

  • On the Rise

    Celebrates early-stage startups, under 4 years, that have shown remarkable progress and success in their initial years.

  • Prodigy

    Recognises young visionaries under 30 with outstanding talents and achievements, setting them apart in their fields.

  • Singularity

    Highlights AI-driven companies that are pioneering new services or integrating AI to create innovative products.

  • Women in Business

    Celebrates female entrepreneurs and leaders who are forging paths for future generations by creating more equitable opportunities.

  • B-Good

    Recognises businesses that redefine commercial success by positively transforming our economic system for the benefit of all stakeholders.

  • Circular Pioneer

    Celebrates companies at the forefront of circular economy practices, making substantial and sustainable differences.

  • Ethical Leadership New

    Commends companies exemplifying leadership in environmental and social governance, setting standards in corporate responsibility and ethical practices.

  • Going Green

    Acknowledges companies leading large-scale sustainable initiatives, addressing critical areas like clean energy and environmental justice.

  • Collab New

    Honours strategic partnerships and alliances with other businesses to leverage complementary strengths, access new markets, and share resources for synergistic growth and innovation.

  • Design First

    Celebrates companies where design is the heartbeat of innovation, engaging the whole team in crafting groundbreaking products.

  • Going Global New

    Applauds companies that have expanded their reach globally, showcasing exceptional growth and international success.

  • Great Pivot

    Acknowledges companies that adeptly navigate change, leveraging insights to pivot towards delivering outstanding products.

  • Movement

    Recognises unforgettable event experiences that resonate emotionally, drive social change, or achieve viral status.

  • New Model

    Honours businesses revolutionising markets with elegant and disruptive business models.

  • Next Level New

    Applauds companies which had successful strategic acquisition and integration of another entity, staff or an asset that allowed them to further grow and scale their services.

  • Wildfire

    Celebrates companies that have rapidly and significantly impacted their marketplace, online and offline, setting new standards for success.

  • Angel

    Honours visionary angel investors who've significantly contributed to early-stage startups, guiding them toward success.

  • C-Suite

    Recognises exceptional leadership qualities in high-ranking executives, showcasing their management and interpersonal excellence.

  • Creative Maverick New

    Honours unconventional thinkers with exceptional abilities to execute typically unimaginable initiatives, expertly coordinate teams, secure funding or successfully launch multiple ventures.

  • Ecosystem Star

    Celebrates individuals who energise and nurture their communities, fostering engagement and advocacy.

  • Future Builder

    Recognises the determination and resilience of founders who've embarked on the challenging journey of starting their own ventures.

  • Quiet Achiever New

    Applauds the unsung heroes whose behind-the-scenes efforts have led to flawless project executions and exceeded expectations.

  • Splash Down Under New

    Acknowledges international companies making a noteworthy entrance into the Australian market, enriching the local business ecosystem.

  • TopCoder

    Recognises developers for their outstanding technical skills, clean code, and collaborative spirit.

  • Venture Cap

    Salutes venture capital firms with a track record of backing transformative businesses, contributing significantly to Australia's economic growth.

  • Visionary New

    Recognises effective leadership by setting a clear vision, motivating the team, and making strategic decisions that guide their business towards its goals.

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