Final Project –

CHARTattack is the website for CHART, a music magazine published in Toronto by Chart Communications. Chart Communications has been around since 1990 and launched the magazine in 1995 and the website in 1996.

Because the website is an extension of the magazine itself, I have chosen to quote the site directly for it’s description. I will be building on this concept because, in my view, the website falls short of matching the magazine itself in a number of ways and this is what I feel needs to change. This quote is found on the website:

“Now in it’s 15th year, Chart Communications’ marquee publication CHART is Canada’s longest running consumer music magazine. Published ten times per year, it is the only Canadian consumer music magazine with a paid subscription and a newsstand circulation base. CHART chronicles the Canadian and international music scenes and other forms of art and communication including films, books, zines, videos, TV, games, the internet, pop culture and fashion. The magazine is published ten times per year and the current October 2004 magazine represents issue number 160. The editorial focus remains music and youth culture with a strong Canadian mandate.

The magazine began as an eight-page photocopied newsletter covering the local music scene. It quickly expanded into a full-colour glossy international magazine committed to fostering and promoting the Canadian music scene and it’s growth, while maintaining its editorial independence and integrity. In contrast to other North American magazines which focus mainly on established acts, CHART follows the buzz – breaking the up and coming hot new bands such as Avril Lavigne, Barenaked Ladies, Our Lady Peace, Sum 41, Matthew Good and many more. It is committed to providing an element of celebrity and excitement in Canada similar to the scene fostered in the U.K. by magazines such as Select and Q.
Launched in 1996, is Canada’s premiere music website. Updated daily, the award-winning music information website is the leading online reference for Canada’s music industry and the online accompaniment to CHART magazine. As the premiere Canadian music content supplier to, was the first online service for the Canadian music/entertainment industry. It serves the market with it’s in-depth coverage of the Canadian and international music scenes. was the first in Canada to launch an email newsletter and it provides the only weekly Canadian campus radio chart. features music news, CD reviews, interviews with Canadian and international artists, contests and much more. It recognizes that Canadians want to know about their home-grown bands and covers the Canadian scene with an edgy attitude and pushing the envelope with its editorial.”

The website gives site traffic statistics on the same webpage but they are from September 2004. They are as follows:

55, 774 page views per day (over 1, 700, 000 page views per month)
486, 335 hits per day (over 15 million hits per month)
357, 654 unique visitors per month
9.42 minutes session length per user
Over 20, 000 subscribers to eCHART,’s weekly email newsletter

General Analysis
It just makes sense to me that if you are going to present yourself as “Canada’s premiere music website” and the “leading online reference for Canada’s music industry,” one thing that should be done is an annual update of the stats that support these claims. With their affiliation to Sympatico it certainly would not be difficult to access these figures and keep them up to date.

The name CHARTattack is very catchy. It sounds direct and in your face but the website is too busy and does not reflect the look of the magazine which is both colourful and not linear in it’s layout. It also does not reflect the mood of the magazine itself.

One of the things that I love most about the magazine is the humourous slant of many of the articles and the sort of “edgy” attitude it has. The content of the website has this, of course, because it has many of the articles, reviews and so on from the magazine but the titles, layout and colour of the website do not reflect this. I think it should be redone to make the website truly reflect the magazine and it’s own catchy title.

For a reader to spend only 9 minutes looking at a site with this much content seems like an issue of concern that needs to be addressed.

Strategies for Improving the Website
An important strategy which would involve a great deal of expense, would be to give the site a whole new look. I love the font and styling of the CHARTattack wording at the top but it is overshadowed by the fact that a large advertisement has more prominence and colour. I know advertising is where a lot of the money comes from but I think a new placement of the advertisment could give it the prominence it needs and help focus the reader on the fact that this is CHARTattack’s website, not the advertiser’s.

Within the general layout, the simplicity of the tabs across the top works well. The simplicity plays into the fact that the website needs to be more concise and hard hitting in keeping with it’s name.

The smaller advertisments invite readers to tune into various services (newsletters, advertising, submitting music, etc) are colourful and placed well to catch the eye. This does reflect the vibrancy of the magazine and works well with the stategy I am proposing to improve the website.

However, the home page has too much content to keep it as punchy or sharp as the name CHARTattack implies it could be. This is what I would prioritize as an easy and inexpensive solution that could be implimented very quickly. Even without redesigning the entire layout, a simple fix would be to shorten the content into “teasers” with more homour and more concise wording. This would be inexpensive but very appropriate and suitable.

So focusing on the “attack” mood of the titles of the articles themselves and using strategies already used by the magazine (humour, irreverence, boldness, color) is the first strategy to be employed in changing this website. In keeping with that, a shorter and more humourous homepage is in order to greet the eye and engage the mind of the reader.

Specific Areas to Immediately Improve the Website
1. Under News on the home page, the headline “Crash Karma Touring Canada” could become “Crash Karma Hits Canada!” In a similar way, using more of an “attack” feel, the headline “Animal Collective Holding Psychedelic Art Show in Guggenheim Museum” could become “Animal Collective Unleashed at the Guggenheim.”

2. Building on this, the category titles on the home page itself could be made more catchy, as well. “Pumping on our stereo” is the only title presen that has that “attack” feel that the website could benefit from. Again, this is easy to change. “Snapshots” could be substituted for “photos” and “Stand up and be counted” or “Cast your vote” could be used instead of “daily poll.”

3. Another area that this website could really play up is the Interactive category. What makes a website different from a magazine is the ability to interact with the readers. Focusing more on inviting the audience to join in creating the content would be a good way of expanding the website’s concept, especially when the website tells the readers “you make the website.” So, this feature could be much more prominent and really be played with in the context of the “attack” mood. On the blog page, the forum titles really work. The mood here hits the mark and needs to be expanded to the whole website.

CHARTattack Community Guidelines are great and really work. Beginning with the statements “Hanging out with CHARTattack involves a certain level of trust. We trust you. Respect the trust” followed by “CHARTattack Dos – Play Nice” and “CHARTattack Don’ts – Don’t Be a Dick” is right in keeping with the theme of “not messing around” which is a feature of the magazine itself. This much thought and attititude needs to go into the weblink titles themselves and be present everywhere on this site.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: