Reclaim Hosting at OER19

In case you missed it, I’ve just published my notes, thoughts, and reflections from my personal experiences at OER19. I’d now like to jump to Reclaim Hosting’s presence at the conference, which was a different, equally awesome piece of last week.

We were finally able to see our Be Kind, Reclaim Ad, new VHS shirts, and Ryan Seslow’s artwork for Domain19 come to life in one place and it was beautiful. I took a few pictures, but I think Jim’s video really captures the full setup nicely:

This was our first time ever sponsoring a conference as Reclaim Hosting, and it meant that we had a 10 min slot on the afternoon of Day One to quickly speak about who we are and what we stand for. I was elected to do the speaking (an honor that I do not take lightly) so I thought long and hard about what I wanted to say. These ‘sponsor slots’ can quickly feel vendory and salesy, so I made it my absolute mission to take an opposite stance.

Jim happened to record this little talk, and I’ve also decided to include my notes below as I think they do have a way of sharing the Reclaim story quite nicely.

Hey folks- for those of you who don’t know me, my name is Lauren Brumfield.

So a little birdie told me the other day that OER19 is the largest OER conference yet. Which is completely wild- very cool. It also means that there are likely some new faces in the crowd that aren’t super familiar with Reclaim Hosting, and therefore might be a bit confused by page 19 in your OER Program. Which is totally fine, but that means that you haven’t done your homework and now, as punishment, you have to sit and listen to me talk to you for the next hour. Completely kidding- I’ll only be up here for a few minutes, but I really just wanted to quickly go over our video shelf graphic, which actually tells the story of Reclaim Hosting.

Reclaim Hosting provides educators and institutions with an easy way to offer domains and web hosting within the classroom in a way that students and faculty can own and control. Our goal is to make the process for offering flexible web space for your community super seamless with the best support around. We always say that web hosting is nothing new, and in fact we would argue that this is “trailing edge technology”. So with that in mind, we’ve adopted this VHS metaphor and brand. And when we were asked to create an ad for OER19, a shelf with VHS tapes that highlight our values, history, and projects made total sense.

OER19

And as a fun fact, OER19 is the first time that we’re sponsoring a conference as Reclaim Hosting. That said, we’ve had a presence in some form or fashion at the OER conferences since 2016. Jim Groom wrote more about this in our OER blog post, which I encourage you to read, but we look forward to coming back year after year to support the ethos of the ALT group and pay tribute to the people and conversations at OER that absolutely make Reclaim Hosting what it is today. For that reason, we had to create a tape for this event. And I’m not sure what ET has to do Open Education, but it was perfect for our aesthetic so there ya go.

DS106

The next tape on the shelf is DS106, which arguably inspired the inception of Reclaim Hosting. DS106, which stands for Digital Storytelling, is an open, online course that began at the University of Mary Washington in 2010 and is open to join and leave, participate in and interact with by anyone, at any time. Building this community wasn’t a far jump from creating digital identities on Reclaim Hosting, which started taking off in 2013. DS106 started gaining so much traction, in fact, that Stephen Downes began referring to it as a cult, and this artwork was Martha Burtis’s response to that.

YourDomain . com

As I’ve already mentioned, this idea of curating a digital identity and controlling your digital narrative is something that we’re really passionate about at Reclaim. Your domain . com – Endless possibilities. When a new user signs up for an account and then navigate to their newly registered domain, they will see a VHS tape with their new domain scratch onto the spine of the tape. That splash page was designed by the wonderful Bryan Mathers, and we wanted to make sure that was cataloged on this shelf.

Devo

This Devo tape points our server infrastructure, which is obviously the boring part of web hosting. But to make it a little less boring, all of our Shared Hosting servers are named after 80’s punk rock bands. Which, if you know Jim Groom and Tim Owens— the founders of Reclaim— this should not be at all surprising.

SPLOTs

As Reclaim has continued to grow over the last couple of years, we’ve been a part of conversations about making web hosting, cPanel, and online applications approachable. Because we realize it can feel scary over overwhelming if you’ve never worked with these tools before. So with that in mind, you may have heard of these things called SPLOTs, or site templates, which allow users to install a version of WordPress, for example, that’s already populated with text and images to help show the possibilities of a given theme or plugin. But if you want to learn more about it, talk with Alan Levine or Brian Lamb- they won’t shut up about it.

Gutenberg

So as Reclaim has continued to grow, our support needs have grown as well. And with that, support has become one of the largest focal points that dictates how we spend our time at Reclaim. Being able to offer authentic, helpful, and quick support has always been a top priority for us, so this obviously deserved space on the shelf. And I have to give Tim Owens, our support guru, credit for the beautiful artwork here, as he translated WordPress’s latest update into a Horror film. Which feels very true to form, as the horror around the release of Gutenberg made our support explode a few months ago.

Domains: Your Digital Identity

If you came to OER18, then this might look a little familiar and that’s because it’s taken from the 5 min video that Reclaim Hosting actually produced and released at last year’s conference to not only promote Domains, but our brand new, state of the art VHS store in Fredericksburg, Virginia. The store/alter ego is lovingly referred to as Reclaim Video. It was originally Jim’s personal brainchild, but he easily convinced the rest of the team as another way of making web hosting less boring. So you can actually stop by Reclaim Video to rent out VHS, betamax, and laserdisc (it’s completely free) or at the very least you can go to reclaimvideo.com and watch our awesome promo. (But I’m just a little biased.)

Domains19

Our last tape on the shelf is for our Domains19 conference, which we will be hosting on June 10 & 11 in Durham, North Carolina. We’re hoping that it will not only be an extension for a lot of the conversations that have happened today and will happen tomorrow, but we’ll also be focusing on the uncertain futures of data ownership, privacy, access, targeted teaching tools, cloud infrastructures. I’m happy to chat further with you about the event if you have any questions, or you can go to domains.reclaimhosting.com for more information.

Be Kind, Reclaim

And to finish: We’ve also just printed these new /Be Kind, Reclaim/ stickers, which you’re welcome to take from our table setup. I personally love the double meaning that they offer. While they were firstly intended to play on the “Be Kind Rewind” stickers that used to go on VHS tapes, I actually enjoy reading it more as a call to action: Be Kind. Reclaim the Web.

My slides are available here. (Flip to the end for my new favorite GIF.)

Reclaim Merchandise Pt. 2

Remember that one time we sold t-shirts? And then I turned my dining room into a shipping center? Well, I’m happy to announce that we’re back for round 2! Reclaim has come a long way since 2016, and dining room shipping centers are a thing of the past. We have a bonafide office to use for our return address now (lol), and we’re bringing a ton of variety to store.reclaimhosting.com. I’m so excited.

While I won’t be able to offer much help in the way of shipping the shirts since I’m living down in Florida, I was still able to help with the site and product images. I had a blast taking the GIFs created by Ryan Seslow and Bryan Mathers and adding them behind the t-shirt images. Here were the final results:

Also I just have to say… I’m really psyched about the new VHS logo shirts. They’re printed on preshrunk jersey cotton so they’re extra soft and already feel worn in. We’re offering these in a Heather Navy and a Heather Green.

We’re also selling the last of Record Logo Reclaim shirts as well as a couple of sticker options:

We won’t be restocking the Record Logo Reclaim shirts, Domains 17 Shirts, or Reclaim Video shirts, so grab some swag while you still can! The newer VHS Logo & Reclaim Video shirts are $20 each, while the older shirts are $10 each.

All sticker-only orders have free shipping. And if you’re attending OER19 or Domains19, we’ll hand-deliver your shirt if you so desire!

Be Kind Reclaim

I think I can speak for the entire Reclaim team when I say that we’re super pumped to be sponsoring OER for the second year in a row. Last year we flew to Bristol for OER 18 to unveil Reclaim Video and the first ever, in-house production, Domains: Your Digital Identity. We had a blast.

Since then, Reclaim Hosting has used the last year to slowly blend and adopt much of the metaphor behind Reclaim Video. We sent out Domains VHS tapes to potential Domain of One’s Own customers around the states, for example. We even slowly updated our logo and website design from a record label to a VHS store, all the while keeping the same hand-drawn vibe that our customers were used to.

Now in time for the creation of OER19’s full-page ad, I’m excited that we’ll be attending not as Reclaim Video, but as Reclaim Hosting with an even further integrated VHS metaphor.

We’re taking the ^ famous shelf header image that has stood long and proud as a symbol for Reclaim, and turning it into a real-life shelf in (you guessed it) Reclaim Video:

We realized we had quite a bit to talk about at OER, and what better way to do that than with gorgeous VHS cover art?!

We voted as a team to decide what belonged on the shelf, and then divvied up the design work amongst ourselves. I’ll let the others talk about the work that they did, but the final list came down to:

  • Domains 19: Back to the Future – Our upcoming conference on June 10-11th
  • SPLOT: What Do You See? – More info about SPLOTs here & here.
  • The Cursed Gutenberg – The horror around the recent WordPress upgrade
  • DS106: The Cult of 4Life – Does ds106 need an explanation…?
  • OER19: Recentering Open – Paying tribute to OER themes, which just so happen to blend nicely on our shelf
  • YourDomain.com – a play on creating your digital identity and the Reclaim Hosting Splash page.
  • Reclaim Video’s Domains – the in-house production
  • Devo – One of Reclaim Hosting’s server names
  • Be Kind, Reclaim – a play on the ‘Be Kind, Rewind’ stickers.

I worked on Domains19 and YourDomain.com, which I’ll talk about a little more depth below:

I wanted the Domains 19 tape to have a very similar feel to what’s currently on the website: domains.reclaimhosting.com. Both the color bars on the left and the cutout of a hooded figure– a screenshot of a GIF, actually– were created by Ryan Seslow, one of our featured artists for the conference. I found the black VHS cover background (in all of its grungy glory) here. The text was added on Canva.

For YourDomain.com, I wanted it to feel less like a movie cover and more like someone created a recording of themselves and slapped a label on it. (Isn’t that what a website is anyway?) The original cover can be found here. The Media label, originally a sticker for Halloween, can be found here. The text was then added on Canva.

And for your view pleasure, here’s an up close look at the rest of VHS Covers:

So good, right? Can’t wait for what’s to come at OER 19. Also, we may or may not but definitely did order Be Kind, Reclaim stickers to hand out in April. Raise your hand if you want one!! ?

Roadshow Website

To piggyback off of Jim’s recent post on our new Reclaim Roadshow artwork created by Bryan Mathers, I wanted to announce that the new Reclaim Roadshow Website is now live! I’ve worked on quite a few websites for Reclaim Hosting, and this Roadshow site is easily a favorite. Simple in concept, but the metaphor is so. good. I’ll share a screen capture with my design ideas below, but I also recommend that you check out the live version at roadshow.reclaimhosting.com for the full animated experience.

The Header

Once we figured out that the theme for the upcoming MSU workshop would be Digital Presence and the looming ‘Ghost of‘ metaphor came to be, I knew immediately that I wanted to incorporate some sort of smoke element to tie into the spookiness of Scooby Doo. I came across these great smoke effect videos on Youtube, so it was quite simple to load one in the background using Elementor.

Logistically, I wanted the header to answer the Why, What, & Where of the Roadshow. I also created a little Flower-Power button graphic that links off to the workshop registration.

The Mystery Van

With artwork this good, I really just wanted to let it do the talking. I added an entrance animation for the van (it bounces in from the right) to create that vroooom feel. I also love playing with overlapping elements on sites to break from the website status quo of clean boxes & uniform lines.

The dotted path on the left starts off the page and pulls the eye down the site towards the next phase of important info. I also love that it plays on a mysterious scavenger hunt vibe.

The Poster

Again, with the idea of letting the art do the work, I added pieces of tape to Bryan’s poster to make it look like it was quickly slapped onto the reader’s computer screen. The Groovy 70’s font that used throughout (since I unfortunately can’t just steal Bryan’s handwriting) is called Keep on Truckin’ and free for download.

The Previous Episodes

Finally, I’m excited to be able to start collecting previous episodes (i.e. workshops) almost as a portfolio in this section. When you hover over each box with your mouse, you’re given a summary of an episode past, with links to that specific episode’s website.

I can’t wait to see how this site changes & grows over time. While the top header elements should stay relatively the same, the current episode poster will switch out depending on what’s current, and the episodes section should grow as well. Bryan doesn’t know this yet, but I’d love to continue working with him to create a new monster/theme for every episode. So while we might be tackling the Ghost of Digital Presence this February, we may have a handful of other monsters to conquer in the future.

Interested in joining us come February? Be on the lookout for more details at roadshow.reclaimhosting.com/msu.

Domains ’19: 21c Durham

With the Domains 2019 conference location finally released yesterday, I thought it would only make sense to share a few photos of the venue. I visited the space back at the beginning of September and it’s been so hard to keep quiet! If you can believe it, 21c Museum Hotel in Durham is arguably cooler than the 21c in OKC, but shh, don’t tell Domains ’17.

First thing’s first: the museum hotel has been built out of an old reconstructed bank, so you’ll find this push & pull between creative art installations and corporate architecture throughout your entire stay. 

I absolutely love that you can find art at every turn– whether you’re waiting on the couch in the hotel lobby, sneaking a penguin into your hotel room, or grabbing a bite to eat at Counting House

Similar to Domains ’17, presenters at Domains ’19 will speak in/around art galleries like the ones pictured below:

Even the stairwells have their own installations, which I like to call Head in the Clouds.

Without a doubt, I’m incredibly pumped for Domains ’19. Taking the year off from conference planning sure was nice, but it feels good to be back in full force with the bigger & badder conference theme, Back to the Future. I’m looking forward to blending in our Domains content with that of our way-cool conference venue, and am anxious to see what our crazy-talented artist friends come up with.

My personal hope for Domains ’19 is more or less identical to the expectations that I had for my 21c visit: to have an interactive experience, to be challenged by what’s in front of me, and to leave with a greater appreciation of the extreme talents of others. I was impressed in September, and now I can’t wait for next June.

To stay in the know about all things Domains ’19, make sure you’re subscribed to notifications.

Website Redesign for Reclaim

As you have likely seen by now, reclaimhosting.com got a serious facelift last week! I’m completely thrilled with how it turned out, and super excited to see these designs come to life. There were many goals for the new site, but I’ve summarized them into 5 categories: 1) freshen up the general design; 2) create a stronger VHS tape metaphor; 3) highlight our schools; 4) add more detail about products for potential customers; 5) roll out new services.

I’m going to use this post to share some of my favorite before/after images that will not only highlight that the above has been accomplished, but so I have a reference to look back on later down the road. (I can’t tell you how often I’ve ended up going back and looking at our before and after images of CoWork Fredericksburg.)

Homepage

Before:

After:

We kept the header image and three blocks of text to create a sense of familiarity for our existing users. The top menu bar is also similar, except for a few new added services. But instead of using the majority of the homepage to showcase institutional logos, we’ve replaced that with a slideshow of logos at the top, along with a link to all schools. Other additions to the homepage include a “yourdomain.com” VHS tape (which is similar in design to our new Splash Page & headers of other site pages), brief descriptions of our primary hosting packages for folks that are brand new to the hosting world, and testimonials from a few of our DoOO schools. I feel that it’s a great overview of what Reclaim Hosting is and what we have to offer.

Applications

Before:

After:

Aside from obvious design differences, the biggest change with the Applications page is that it is simply visible now. While the old page was published, it wasn’t linked anywhere so folks didn’t know it existed unless we pointed them to it in a support ticket. The Apps page is now present in our top menu bar, and is shown more as ‘features’ page for Reclaim vs. an answer to a question we often get in support.

Frequently Asked Questions

Before:

After:

I’m super excited that we’ve now made our FAQ page much more involved and up to date. We’ve separated Q&As into sections for Individuals & Institutions, and will be adding to these as needed.

Domain of One’s Own

Before:

After:

My biggest issue with the original Domain of One’s Own page was that potential schools weren’t really able to see what DoOO looked like right off the bat, nor could they get a sense of pricing/what’s involved without starting a conversation with Reclaim Support. Though I definitely didn’t (and still don’t) want to diminish that conversation around DoOO, I thought it was important to bring the same element of ‘self-service’ to this page that can be found on the rest of the Reclaim website. Now with more detail than ever before, potential schools can click through screenshots of current DoOO instances, peek into admin views, get an overview of our pricing model, and even preemptively read through documents like our SLA or User Agreement.

Contact

Before:

After:

The contact form got an update as well. We were using the main Client Area contact form before which definitely wasn’t terrible, but it’s nice to have something on theme with the rest of the site now. And it may be naive, but I’m hoping folks will look through the links in the header before submitting a ticket. :)

And just because…

The 404 Error Page is a definite favorite.

Anyway- there are plenty other changes not mentioned here so I definitely recommend checking out the site for the full experience. Also planning another post on our new services, so that can be expected soon! 

Reclaim Video Artwork

If you’re not already familiar with Reclaim Video, I suggest giving Jim’s post a read. But in short, we’ve decided to turn a storefront adjacent to our Reclaim office into a fully operational 80’s-style VHS store. We’ve already begun collecting tapes & VHS players, and have already broke ground on renovating the space: That’s all good and well, but why? Aside from making Jim’s fantasy a reality, we’re actually using Reclaim Video as Reclaim Hosting’s first *official* marketing campaign. I’ll save details about this for future posts, but will go ahead and note that we’re planning on using VHS tapes to get the word out about Domain of One’s Own. It’s gonna be fun. So in an effort to move towards this next chapter, we also felt that a natural next step for Reclaim would also be to update the artwork on our website; to “modernize” from a record label storefront to (you guessed it) an 80’s VHS storefront. Video killed the radio star, right? While the actual campaign, website, and VHS storefront will stay very true to the 80’s aesthetic, we wanted reclaimhosting.com to embody these changes while still bringing about familiarity for our existing customers. We reached out to Bryan Mathers, the awesome fellow who created our existing artwork, about our ideas. Our visual thinking session (i.e. 2 hours of us brainstorming while Bryan drew our thoughts) was insanely helpful. We were able to nail down our goals for the future & our plan for achieving them, all the while paying tribute to the individuals, organizations, and institutions who have helped us get to where we are today. We talked about building capacity, both internally and externally, but making sure this is done the right way. To stay familiar as we grow. Using the storefront metaphor: even though the “start-up” mentality seems fleeting, Reclaim will always and forever embody the idea of a local store that anyone can walk into, ask questions, speak to a knowledgeable human being, and receive quick support. As we grow, we will grow out, not up. Reclaim will never be a large, 20-story corporate building that offloads support to a third-party company across the globe. Reclaim will, instead, have several small mom & pop shops that will provide you with the same service as that original record label store. Enter new artwork:

Logo

^You can see the similarities, right? Same font, color scheme, and even the same record squiggles. It looks like the record logo has been cut in half to make way for the VHS tape, and I love that.

Logo with Tagline

^Same feel but adds a tagline & switches out the colors.

Website Header

^LOVE this piece. We’ve still got our record albums, but this time instead of those having the application names, they now have some of our shared hosting server names, which just so happen to also be band names. We’ve also made room on the shelf for some VHS tapes, or popular tools in cPanel. Intermixed with those are a few DIY tapes, which I’m all about. Want to build your site on WordPress or Omeka? Or perhaps use your own HTML? Maybe watch a Zombies movie instead?

Up Close

^Here’s an up-close version so you can see titles a bit better. (Just now realizing that MediaWiki is one word, so we’ll get that fixed. :)) Which got us thinking…what if every domain was a VHS tape?

Blank Tape

^Tim had the brilliant idea to use this as part of our new splash page when someone signs up for a domain. Their newly registered domain could automatically generate on the tape when they refresh their page.

Interactive Video Tape Versions

To say the least, I’m thrilled with the work that Bryan has done so far. And I’m pumped for what’s to come! If you’ve got ’em, I would love to hear your thoughts on growth, metaphors, or art in the comment section below. And stay tuned for more artwork. :)

Community Artwork

Over the last year or so Reclaim Hosting has been working with Bryan Mathers to help us rebrand as an independent record label. I’ve already shown my love to Bryan’s work in other ways, but today I wanted to take a minute to showcase some of the really incredible work that Bryan has done for Community. In the last few months, we’ve slowly switched over from a Github external documentation site (previously at docs.reclaimhosting.com) to a Discourse Community forum page. Not only does this new space contain all external documentation, but gives users an area to ask for advice, post feature requests, and keep an open dialogue about all things Domain of One’s Own.

Continue reading “Community Artwork”