AkhMorning: A Website Reborn

Authors

Nemekh Kinryuu
Nemekh Kinryuu Founder | EU | Leviathan

AkhMorning 1.0

June 26th 2019. The official launch of a year long project only 2 days before Shadowbringers Early Access.

What came to light was akhmorning.com and its sister site allaganstudies.akhmorning.com (then theoryjerks.akhmorning.com).

Originally created for aspiring and veteran Summoners as well as friends to Bahamut, AkhMorning as a site has seen considerable growth with not only fleshing out more content for Summoner but adding our sibling casters to the roster with Red Mage in February 2020 and Black Mage in June 2020.

In that time since the site’s original launch, per our analytics, traffic has since exploded from double digit visitors, to hundreds of unique visitors, to the current state of thousands of unique visitors every day from all over the world benefitting from our resources. That number is still growing as you read this article and I hope continues to do so!

Allagan Studies too, after its rebrand from TheoryJerks, has seen considerable interest from players across the globe wanting to know more about the game with nods to our work from the Japanese community and Yoshi-P himself as the overseas players who figure things out.

Despite a healthy growth trend one thing became very apparent to me:

It was time to have Bahamut blow up the old and bring in the new just like Legacy to ARR.

AkhMorning and its sister sites have long been a personal project with growing pains from my limitations as someone who can develop but isn’t a developer and as someone who can code but isn’t a programmer. There had been a few bugs in newer functions added and frankly while the original design was functional it was ineligent and dated. This had to change.

GetRekt Labs

Back in March I had contacted the British firm GetRekt(tm) Labs about a desire to strike the iron while it’s hot to rebrand AkhMorning with a new lick of paint to better serve the FFXIV community.

GetRekt(tm) have worked with some big names in the gaming influencer circles such as Arrekz of Arrekz Gaming/Monster Hunter fame and Gladd from Destiny 2, as well as many others known and lesser known. Having seen the work GetRekt had done for them I knew I was in capable hands.

Initially I was pensive as AkhMorning, being a website focused on content creation and news updates, was not like their more typical client of emergent streamers and influencers looking to bring more life to their streams, videos and brand. Having joined their community I was rubbing shoulders with some names very very familiar to me from other games and streams. I felt a bit out of place!

I had gotten to know some great people within who I’d discovered were also very much into playing Final Fantasy XIV, notably Cami who had just begun her story journey discovering A Realm Reborn for the first time (and also loves dragons!) playing through as a Scholar, and Serrated Viper who mains Warrior.

June came and so began the design process of the new logo. The brand scientest etSki was assigned to my proposal and he was very expedient and attentive to the outlined design ideas and coming up with examples. Relaying the examples to AkhMorning’s team and Patrons, eventually we went through several iterations until we settled on what is the logo you see on this website today.

From then began the work on the branded social banners for Twitter, YouTube and Patreon, as well as the motion graphics work for a video intro. The latter also went through several iterations and after an idea from one of our Patrons resonating really well with me, we settled on a final concept that after adding some really cool sound effects to I will be unveiling in a video soon!

The Website Redesign

Part way through the project with GetRekt I looked around for potential professional JAMstack web developers who were familiar with AkhMorning’s original framework Hugo.

Eventually I found a very talented Australian developer by the name of Cameron with whom I spent a long time hashing out details and evaluating the scope and hours my vision for AkhMorning would take to complete. It’s really nice when an experienced developer is enthusiastic for your ideas and vision which reaffirmed my decision to give the website a new lease of life.

After weighing the pros and cons of our available options we decided to migrate to the Jekyll framework.

I presented my mockups and ideas and I realised some of my design concepts could benefit from a professional design touch. He recommended I get in touch with a personal friend and colleague of his. So we brought on the Japanese designer Kanae who has been in the industry for a long time.

Kanae was wonderful to talk with about ideas and plans for the website, as well as how she played Final Fantasy as a child in Japan with her brother and that FFXIV’s community being in so international was really interesting to her given Square Enix’s Japanese roots.

With Kanae’s design work bringing my concepts to life and the quality coding efforts of National Digital’s Cameron and his work partner Tara we’re now at this point where I can proudly relaunch this much shinier, optimised and more functional AkhMorning. This is definitely not the end of working with them!

Rumour has it there may be an easter-egg in the site somewhere.

What’s New With The Website?

The new AkhMorning website comes with a more polished, modern design and styling in addition to the new logo and branding.

It features a customisable banner at the top of each page, News tiles and parallax backgrounds.

We now have author boxes showing the team behind the content pages in addition to social icons so you can more directly find their Lodestones, Twitch and YouTube channels. More link buttons may be added at a later point, such as FFLogs and Twitter.

Like our endgame guides it has been optimised to be better and will have improved performances across all devices.

On the topic of endgame guides we have added the following to help you further in your pursuit to beat XIV’s encounters:

There is a search function in desktop view in the Navigation Menu where typing into it lets you find appropriate pages to your search. (This needs some styling tweaks, but works)

We’ve fixed the breadcrumbs to work as intended while looking more the part. Each step links correctly to their appropriate page.

The Table of Contents in the sidebar for larger viewports has been revised considerably to be dynamic. It will:

  • collapse all categories to make for a tidier table of contents
  • expand the current category you are viewing
  • highlight the current heading(s) you are reading with the golden styling
  • soon have a progress bar to show how far in a total page you are

There are some sections that are still a work in progress and may not be 100% on smaller viewports such as Tablets or Mobile. If you find any bugs, broken elements or things that look out of place please let us know via contact@akhmorning.com or post it in the AkhMorning Discord #website-feedback channel.

Currently known bugs:

  • ToC glitches with Accordions (Opener pages)
  • Various mobile quirks. Mobile is tricky
  • Styling of certain elements on certain pages

What’s Planned For The Future?

Lots of cool things are in the pipeline! Here’s a list of what’s in the works:

  • Applying the new theme and framework to Allagan Studies. Let’s give the theorycrafting site a similar lift.
  • Filling out any gaps to make our content pool even more robust. Fewer soon(tm)s and more goods!
  • More Ultimate guides! We know how much you’ve benefitted from the existing ones. Let’s add UWU to the list soon!
  • Localisation into FR, DE, JP, ZH and KR languages. This is a big project and will take a while, but one I want to aim towards.
  • Job streamer pages so that you can find mains of the job of your interest streaming to watch and learn from.
  • New video concepts in the works for job guides and discussions, including collaborations with some incredible talent
  • New articles interviewing players that make FFXIV’s community. There’s a few in mind already.
  • Covering additional areas of the game. If the community wants AkhMorning to cover more areas of the game I’ll see what we can do.
  • and more!

Black Lives Matter To AkhMorning: Redux

Some of you may remember during the rise of the global movement that I started a fundraiser for the Black Lives Matter Global Network on behalf of AkhMorning as it is very much a topic of significance to me.

It came to my attention that the charity on Just Giving and various other fundraising platforms was not the Black Lives Matter Global Network, but a small operation based out of Santa Clarita. BuzzFeed and I had correspondence in light of this article. Effective immediately from then I froze the fundraiser until there were answers and resolutions.

JustGiving promised me that none of the funds have gone to the Black Lives Matter Foundation and that all funds are guaranteed to go to the Black Lives Matter Global Network through Thousand Currents, the organisation handling BLM’s finances. While the JustGiving page has still yet to be updated to reflect this, I will keep chasing them up to ensure the listed charity becomes its intended recipient.

When more is known I will post an update.

The Costs Of Keeping Things Golden

The massive and ever-increasing undertaking that is providing the FFXIV community with good quality accessible resources comes with it some costs in terms of time and finances.

AkhMorning, the 4 years as staff within The Balance and working on materials and resources has been essentially a full time occupation of mine on top of being a freelancer with care obligations to my family.

With the aforementioned growth of AkhMorning my main reason for hiring on board professionals was from acknowledging that trying to make my plans real alone was never going to work out.

When it comes to business I’m a big fan of the Time-Quality-Cost triangle, or “Scope Triangle”. In hiring quality and hoping for expediency I knew that it was going to cost a pretty penny.

The rebrand, redesign and development costs would be in total around $5k+ USD after taxes and currency conversions. In addition to that, there are the domain and hosting fees in addition to other expenses for the sake of the site. On a project this important to me, while I had to be realistic with budget constraints, it was worth it and I would do it again.

I have plans to continue working with such fantastic people, finances permitting, to further polish and improve AkhMorning and its sister websites. Allagan Studies is next in my sights so that such an important theorycrafting resource can be even better.

With that all said this brings me to an important topic:

Supporting AkhMorning

I will begin with my base desire to try to keep AkhMorning as free of advertising banner creatives as possible. What I would be prepared to do is have banner zones solely for community members to advertise their wares and services, such as an FFXIV artist looking for players to commission them, but if the costs outweigh the income then ad revenue will have to be considered at a later time. I would prefer to avoid this scenario where possible.

To help keep that a reality you can support AkhMorning in various ways through the following:

Patreon - Monthly Support

AkhMorning’s Patreon has been revamped with the new branding and revised with new tiers as a way to give back to the community with perks, recognition and tangible goods in merchandise.

Guaranteed monthly income helps immensely with stability and you can help from as little as $1 a month.

Not to mention nothing would make me happier than seeing members of AkhMorning’s community proud to wear a golden pin badge at Fanfests.

Rumour has it there’s a final tier that has yet to reveal itself. It will be reminiscent an old group project that was once discussed back in 2017.

Ko-Fi - One Off Support

AkhMorning’s Ko-Fi has also been given a new lick of paint with the new branding.

For the price of a coffee, or in my case a nice cup of tea, you can contribute 1 or more instances of £3 GBP in support of AkhMorning.

PayPal - Monthly or One Off Support

AkhMorning also has a dedicated PayPal for direct donations.

Discord Nitro Boosting

Last but not least, given the presence of Discord globally and AkhMorning’s Discord’s roots as a social/emoji server, Nitro Boosts are a nice way to give back to the community to give the server better resources and the ability to have a more custom, homely feel.

Look After Yourselves First

Times are tough since the pandemic of Covid-19 has hit us.

Please make sure you’re supporting yourself first before any fansite or other individuals.

Closing

This was a lot to write about! These past few months have been a wild ride for many reasons. I didn’t anticipate to keep on time with the planned relaunch date of August 1st in light of recent family losses to covid. But through these trials we’ve come out stronger.

I hope you like this new version of AkhMorning as much as I have been excited to work on it, and that our resources bring you further fun and enjoyment in XIV as you play the game. There’s so much to look forward to.

Thanks for your time reading and have a Good AkhMorning.

~Nem