The Porsche of awards programmes with community at its heart
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.
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.
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?
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