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Kerrang! is the world’s biggest-selling weekly rock magazine. Founded 36 years ago the title is central to alternative music, with a website attracting millions of visitors every month, plus television, radio and event properties.

The project

In May this year, legendary rock magazine Kerrang! was acquired by Wasted Talent. We’ve handled all design, development and ad tech for Wasted Talent since 2013 and with this project, we aimed to replicate the success of Mixmag’s redesign, and the continual, sustained growth we’ve built since the relaunch.


Before we came on board Kerrang! was running an out of date, tired-looking WordPress website and was in desperate need of a relaunch. Engagement was low, bounce rate was high, ad inventory was badly utilised and in a crowded marketplace it was imperative the brand reclaimed its position at the top of the tree.


Kerrang! attracts a smart, multi-screen, fast-moving audience of 16-24 year olds. This audience has grown up in a connected, socially-networked world – they’re the generation that has received by far the most attention from marketers and advertisers and this age group is a hot target for brands. Our aim was to help Kerrang! reach a far bigger, sophisticated global audience and offer brands a credible, innovative route to them. But to do this we needed to build a platform that truly represented that audience.

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Our approach

Unique to this project was the fact that the redesign would begin during acquisition to ensure relaunch happened as quickly as possible. This setup limited access to a certain amount of data and research so we approached the project carefully and built a flexible platform that would allow us to learn about our audience quickly and evolve as and when we learned more about their behaviour.


It was felt that the Kerrang! brand no longer represented its audience and nowhere was this more obvious than with the dated, “digitally cracked” Kerrang! logo. With this in mind we brought in Toby Evans, a brand designer who’s worked with Adidas, Boiler Room and Supreme, who developed a bold, credible new logo that took reference from Kerrang!’s vast printed archive. We also found a new editor in the shape of Robert Foster, a talented editor and rock music obsessive who has previously worked with Vice, Bauer and LadBible.


Initial research revealed that Kerrang!’s younger audience often obsessed over a small number of well-known bands rather than a wide range of artists spread throughout the genre. A new, more mature editorial direction would bring a change to this behaviour and we structured the initial build to ensure those visiting stories on the “Big 10” would have every reason to dive more deeply into content – into more content on artists they already love and into the discovery of others. Page structure, use of images, signposting and intelligent artist categorisation was key to this but so too was the use of video and Spotify playlists – visit any high-traffic page on the site and you’ll notice a myriad of audio and visual content to draw you in.


Kerrang!’s audience has a multiple of content sources to choose from. They find news and content across social, mobile, TV, radio and traditional media, making brand loyalty harder to build than ever before. With this in mind, we designed the site to shout as loudly as the music it covers, using huge blocks of vibrant colours, large photos and bold, confident type.


After looking carefully at requirements we chose Craft as the CMS on Kerrang! Craft is a slick, user-friendly CMS that offers a good level of control over site structure without requiring a myriad of plugins, but more importantly, it’s one of the most flexible systems on the market. Key to Craft is its “Matrix” system that we tweaked to allow editorial a huge amount of control over article structure. The team can now create beautiful, media-rich layouts for articles or features on the site in a system that requires little to no training to use – an important consideration with big, growing, global editorial teams. CMS flexibility is key to our plan for growth – being able to respond and adapt quickly as we learn more about our audience will ensure we’re one step ahead of the competition.


As well as having visual control over features the team have a suite of tools at their disposal, including “Tweetable quotes” that give auto-populated call to actions to share, and widgets to drive traffic around within articles. Mailing list data capture makes use of artist tagging to entice sign-up, with subscribers sent a weekly email of content produced by editorial using a system that makes use of a browser bookmark plugin to build – with a weekly email taking just minutes to create.


Video is of course key to the future and the team now have heaps of control over this type of content. Video search is built into the CMS itself, with wide support over video platforms including YouTube and Vimeo. In-house video is trafficked through JW Player which allows deep insight into user behaviour, control over related videos and pre-roll video advertising. As the video strategy kicks into effect the site will adapt to allow an even greater role for video content.


Away from the site our video team are working closely with editorial producing video and seeding it across socials. Mixing archive, live and original footage, videos have covered female punk pioneers, Black Metal music, Kid Rock running for presidency and the death of Chester Bennington. This type of content helps build the brand but more importantly, video with strong engagement is favoured heavily by social networks, increasing reach for the brand.


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The result

The new, improved site launched very recently, and whilst it’s still early days the results we’ve seen so far have exceeded expectations. Organic traffic to the website has doubled and a new look, new build and new editorial focus have been met with overwhelmingly positive feedback.


Social reach has increased by 147% since relaunch with the social video content we’re producing playing a part in that rise, reaching over 2.6MM views in two weeks.


Dropping cheap, badly-targeted programmatic advertising, responding to advertiser needs and re-presenting the brand has already seen advertisers flock to the platform, with the likes of Dr Martens, SJM Concerts and AEG booking campaigns since launch.

Let us become your secret weapon.

When it comes to content-led sites like Kerrang!, we really do know our stuff. Get in touch if you’d like to see how we could help you increase growth at your company.

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