Malaysian Website Awards 2016 : It’s Road Trippin’ Time!

Malaysian Website Awards 2016 : It’s Road Trippin’ Time!


Curiosity can and will kill your budget.

2016 was a pretty rough year for me. For most of us I believe. They did warn us all about the steep learning curve solopreneurs will face but they never really gave us any point of reference for how painful it could be. Basically, the past year was about putting theory into practice. It was putting everything I learned from WebWeaver Learning Centre into practice. I was also putting into practice the things I’ve been reading from the myriad of design and branding books I’ve managed to get my hands on the previous year.

Side note – Thank you BookXcess! I’ve purchased the bulk of my books from you. Truly heavensent for people like me. Curiosity can and will kill your budget. BookXcess made learning a whole lot friendlier on my pocket.



Katniss would be proud of me.

BookXcess aside, I’m thankful for everyone that has kept me afloat the past year, and for those who continue to do so. There is nothing solo about being a solopreneur. The very fact that you think you CAN go into it alone without expert assistance, knowledge or willingness to learn new skills are HUGE warning signs that you might not be quite ready yet to enter the ‘Be Your Own Boss’ hunger games. Truthfully, the past year did feel like my own personal version of Hunger Games hell. Katniss would be proud of me.

The Malaysian Website Awards 2016 was held in Penang. I think we only had 2-3 weeks notice that we won Site of The Month (December 2016) and to receive our award (and rewards), we’d have to head up to the ceremony itself 22nd January 2017. Thankfully Kai and Aida were all in, no questions asked.



The Bulletproof Branding & Design support group.

I’m grateful for Poh Tun Kai a.k.a Kai (client of winning website) and personal sidekick, Aida for being gung ho and hopping in my grey car (without much persuasion needed) and joining in my road trip up to Penang. It was all rather last minute and for some reason, these two amazing people trusted me to drive them to Penang in one piece and being part of my little Bulletproof Branding & Design support group.

No woman is an island. I repeat. No woman is an island. No matter how seemingly bulletproof and large. Thanks Kai! Thanks Aida! Heart and hat off to both of you =)



Yes, a sense of direction is important before you start.

I am pleased to report that my main source of inspiration are my clients! I’ve said this before and I will say this again, I’m only as good as the clients I get. My work is an extension of the work my clients put in and I’ve been blessed to get clients that know what they want (or being open to brainstorming) and understand the importance of starting up strong.

Household brands are not built overnight. They are not built being stagnant either, but I believe the right combination or brand strategy, bravery and effort goes a long way. This, as opposed to running in guns ablazing and going completely with the flow.

The flow, I’ve learned.. it changes. What remains constant is you. Without a strong foundation, you are most likely to end up being swept up by trends and random opportunities that pop up, instead of actually setting the trend and creating your own opportunities. Yes, a sense of direction is important before you start.



We may have won based on originality.

The website I built for client, Kai of Role Over Play Dead won me Site of The Year in the Malaysian Website Awards 2016. We won in the personal website category. Kai attended the awards ceremony on my behalf and managed to talk to the judges and meet the other pretty awesome website designers and inspiring solopreneurs. I believe as Kai had told me, we may have won based on originality.

I’ve only been in the website design scene actively for a year, there is still lots to learn on that front. Either way, I’m pretty freakin’ happy and I’ll take it! I’ll take this win. It came just at the right time and it has renewed some faith in myself that I’m at least headed in the right direction.



Life can be painfully funny at times.

The Malaysia Website Awards 2016 (MWA) is a prestigious Website Awards program organised by Exabytes Group of Companies, a Leading Web Hosting Provider in Southeast Asia, which seeks to recognize and reward the outstanding performance, talent and effort of the best web developers, web designers and web agencies in the country. I’ve been nominating websites to be shortlisted for MWA since the very start of 2016. I even have a little section on the MWA 2016 website displaying my website designs that got shortlisted. Their scoring system is pretty useful. If anything, I’ve learned a lot on what I need to work on more and also what I need to cut down on. Poetically, the very final website I submitted was the one that won me the award. Life can be painfully funny at times.



The Award Winning Client.

No doubt about it, it just wasn’t meant to be. I had a bad case of food poisoning the night of the awards and Kai had to go alone to receive the Site of The Month award. Yes, the Site of The Year was only announced DURING the event. I think Kai was equally as shocked as me, moreso because he was actually there in person. I’m happy that Kai got to receive the award. It truly belongs to him in a way, it’s his personal blog AND brand and I’m just the middle person that brought it to life. Yes, I am a vital part of things coming together, but truly, without the effort he personally put in with my many long winded questionnaires, none of this would have been possible.

I believe he had to complete several questionnaires of mine for me to be able to put together his brand visually through graphic design, photography, print and yes, finally the website itself. It took us a good 3 months I believe. It was an ‘Elisha and Kai’ back and forth email tango. In short, Kai had set the tempo. I am only able to work as fast and as efficiently as the client. Mr. Poh Tun Kai, as proven.. you’ve been an award winning client! Thank you for taking me on and being willing to work with my (at times) unconventional methods =)

Check out the visual branding we both managed to come up with!



No amount of ‘padding’ could protect me.

All things considered, I’m still on track. Plus minus the painful mistakes (I apologise to affected parties) and sudden wins, I believe I just made it through the working year in one piece. To be honest, I’ve put on so much weight in 2016 it’s not even funny. No amount of ‘padding’ could protect me from what I had and needed to face in this first few years of my solopreneuring journey.

Note to self, lose weight this 2017.

….. I think I just heard my tummy laughing at me. I’ve been trying to lose weight since forever. We shall see tummy. We shall see!

Over and out.

Just for now.

Elisha Rusli.