Reclaim Website: New Services

In case you’ve missed it, read my first post on the new website design for reclaimhosting.com!

While the post mentioned above documents some of the visual changes on the new Reclaim website, I wanted to write today about some of the new services offered at Reclaim that were introduced with the site design.

WordPress Multisite Hosting → Managed Hosting

A subtle but powerful change, we’ve renamed WPMS Hosting to Managed Hosting in order to accommodate hosting solutions outside of the WordPress force. So whether you need a hosting solution for your large WordPress Multisite or a Virtual Private Server for a digital project not supported in regular Shared Hosting, we’ve got you covered. In addition, Reclaim Hosting has been in cahoots with the CUNY Grad Center to offer Commons in a Box hosting, which we’re hoping to roll out soon.

All Managed Hosting plans include your own cloud infrastructure hosted by Digital Ocean, automatic backups, free migrations, SSO integration, and top-notch security, maintenance and support handled by Reclaim. Interested? You can get a sense of pricing by using our cost calculator here, and read about this transparent pricing model here.

PressBooks Hosting

A not-so-subtle change, Reclaim Hosting is now offering Pressbooks hosting for any and all! At the point of signup on our Pressbooks-only server, your application will be installed automatically within cPanel. This can, of course, be configured/deleted after the fact, but the bulk of the set up is taken care of for you. Pressbooks Hosting is similar to Shared Hosting in that things like automatic backups, support, and a free TLD are included, but different in that you will start with 100GBs of space, have the option to set up SSO, and have access to pre-installed themes/plugins configured for professional book designs.

To read more of the backstory that eventually led to this offering, head over here. Our Plans and Pricing are available here.

Professional Services

And finally, Reclaim Hosting has rolled out a “top-tier” level of support for those who are interested called Professional Services. While we do try to go above and beyond in any normal support scenario, there are some requests that we simply have to turn down as they are not feasible for a 4-person team supporting thousands. For instance, cleaning up hacked sites (and then preventing them from being hacked again) is a huge time suck, and not something that we can do over and over again for everyone with a $30 hosting plan. Support scenarios that are dependent on user preference, for instance, like manually configuring software or working through an SLA are other examples of timely support requests that, under normal circumstances, are no-nos.

With Professional Services, all of the aforementioned is now a yes. You can see the full list of what’s covered by scrolling through this page.

We’re super pumped for these new offerings, and hopeful that this is only a glimpse of what’s coming for the future of Reclaim Hosting.

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! 

Summer 2018 Check-In

As my first official Account Manager duty, I’ve been sending out the first of many check-in emails to our Domain of One’s Own schools. I feel that it’s important for institutions to hear from Reclaim Hosting more than the occasional support ticket response or invoice reminder email. These check-in emails are separated primarily into two sections: What’s New and Account Analytics.

The What’s New section (which I’ve copied below) will essentially be a newsletter for our DoOO Liaisons to stay up to date on the latest Reclaim Hosting happenings. I’ll be sharing new documentation articles that are produced, new software updates/releases, upcoming events, and internal changes. The Analytics section will look a little different based on each institution, but the general format will include: number of cPanel accounts, number of installs within Installatron, total disk usage on the server, and top 5 high-bandwidth sites. As a side note- I’ve really enjoyed looking at these URLs! This isn’t a feature I check often, but I’m excited to have a reason to continually go back and look at these. It’s been keeping me somewhat in tune with individual projects at schools and I love that.

From there I’ll include suggestions for how a given DoOO school can be using their environment more efficiently. This may mean recommending that they delete Installatron backups, set user quota limits, or add more block storage to their server. Lastly, I’m using this email as a chance to confirm our contact information for Domain of One’s Own team members. We always want to make sure that emails and notifications are going to to the right people, so its good to check on this every now and then!

The goal here is to send this email out at the end of every Fall and Spring semester so folks will be able to track their growth over time. I’ll be keeping track of the data in an excel sheet that I’m sending to institutions so I can reference it in future correspondence.

You can find the newsletter portion below:

What’s New at Reclaim Hosting:

New Documentation. Creating an Account for a User Outside of Your Institution •  Detecting Activity Through Server StatisticsYour List of Installations •  Advanced User Analytics Tracking

Forcing HTTPS. Starting in July, Google Chrome will begin to display more prevalent warnings for sites not running on https. View Reclaim Hosting’s response here.

Node.js. As of June 15, it is now possible to run to build and run Node.JS applications at Reclaim Hosting. Read more about this here. As a small caveat, CloudLinux, which is required to run Node.js, is not currently on all servers. If this is something that you’re interested in running, please contact Reclaim Hosting support.

Digital Ocean Customer Story. Digital Ocean recently published a case study on Reclaim Hosting- feel free to give it a read.

As of Late. If you’re interested in reading more about what Reclaim Hosting has been up to recently, you can read Jim Groom’s blog post, Catching up with Reclaim Hosting.

Upcoming Event. Reclaim Hosting will be hosting another Workshop of One’s Own for Domain of One’s Own Administrators this Fall on November 1-2. Seating is limited. More information & registration details can be found here.

Summer Cleanup: CRM

Reclaim Hosting summers have historically been our slower time of the year. This has allowed us to put some much-needed brain power towards special projects, personal growth, and organization of internal operations. While this summer has hardly felt slow, I think we’re all habitually using this time to reevaluate our responsibilities and how we communicate to make sure that Reclaim Hosting is still successfully functioning as a single unit.

Part of this process for Jim and myself has included a deep clean and organization of our client relationship manager, SuiteCRM. I have a couple of blog posts where I talk about manually installing this software, and then transitioning it and away from Asana. But I wanted to write a follow-up post today to summarize the work we’ve been doing over the last couple of weeks as we’ve had a chance to really settle into it and make it our own.

Jim and I met last week to chat about upcoming account renewals and make sure we were on the same page with regards to the status of our DoOO accounts, WPMS instances, and bulk shared hosting customers. This quickly turned into a conversation about how and, more importantly, when we’re communicating with our schools. Do schools hear from us enough? Do they feel supported? Are we in touch with all of the individual projects going on? Are we sending our renewal invoices out early enough? And what’s more, after a school gets their DoOO server, what next? I think most would say that our customer service is pretty awesome when someone submits a support ticket, but should that be the only time schools are hearing from us? When they have a question? What about the other way around? Relationships are a two-way street, no doubt, and our aim over the coming months will be to make sure we’re being intentional about meeting our end of the bargain. </tangent>

Back to CRM. So on the theme of being efficient and intentional, Jim and I have been streamlining our CRM “process”. Sounds simple enough, but with CRM’s many functions & the several steps it takes for a school to go from inquiry phase to launching phase, this really does require a little organization:

General inquiries are known as Leads. This is the Q&A phase. If a lead never amounts to anything, its active status is changed to recycled. (Note: We don’t delete anything! This is important in case the lead comes back- we have a little history to reference.) At the point that we have a signed Institutional Agreement, the school is converted to an Account in CRM. Within each Account profile, we now keep the following data:

Right at the top of the account page, we have a summary view with clickable links to various other tools, renewal date, and contact address.

Next, we have a panel that keeps track of all server history. This can be helpful for a myriad of support-related questions, but also helps us understand an account’s change & growth.

Our contacts panel is super helpful for keeping track of who handles what. A given institution could easily have a contact for the head of the project, a supervisor that oversees, along with someone in the purchasing department, and someone in the IT department. Multiply 4+ times however many accounts we have and suddenly this panel is pure gold. While I’d like to think that I have a good handle on names, this is always nice to double check before making a mistake.

Finally, the last panel that we take advantage of is for keeping a record of documents. This is pretty self-explanatory, but I love that it gives an overview of when files were added, what kind of file it is, and who put it there. That way if any questions that come up, we can always download and reference these documents.

So that’s a little peek at how we’re staying on top of things! I’m looking forward to refining this process and putting in action over the coming months. Perhaps I’ll write a post here soon detailing our renewal reminder process and how we integrate other tools like Asana and Google Calendar.

Digital Literacy: Reclaiming Your Space

As promised in my last post, I wanted to take a moment to summarize & document my Workshop presentation meant for #OER18, even if I wasn’t feeling well enough to present it. Jim, Tim, and Meredith ended up covering for me on the day of, and I couldn’t be more thankful or proud of how it all turned out! I do hope that someday I’ll be given the opportunity to do the talking myself, but for now, a summary of the Workshop will have to do. :)

Workshop Abstract:

The abstract can be viewed here or in the PDF below.

Digital Literacy_ Reclaiming Your Space

 

One of the biggest changes made from the original abstract to the final product was how we decided to break up the hands-on time with the lecture time. Splitting it half and half made sense on paper, but thinking through the real deal made me realize that 45 min is quite a long time to hear one person talk, and a second block of 45 min is quite a long time to have an unstructured free time for a group of WordPress beginners. To combat this, I broke it up into 4 units of combined lecture & workshop time and then asked Jim & Tim to each take a unit. The idea was that when we weren’t up at the front talking, we’d be walking around the room contributing to the conversation and helping folks one on one. To clarify, here’s a quick outline of how the workshop would have been broken up:

Workshop Outline

Unit One: Lauren
Lecture: Digital Literacy
Workshop: Signing up for an account

-What is Digital Literacy? Why is it important?
-Case Study: Personal digital identity transformation from static HTML to professional documentation platform
-The other side of Digital Literacy: Responsibility; Understanding the scope of your digital presence

Unit Two: Tim
Lecture: Folder Structures
Workshop
: Getting familiar with File Manager

-Understanding Servers
-Where are your files stored? How can you access them?
-Public_html & folder organization
-How do you create a file?

Unit Three: Jim
Lecture: Setting Up Your Domain with Installatron
Workshop: Installing WordPress

-What is Open-Source software?
-What apps are available within cPanel’s Installatron?
-Case Studies with Scalar, Omeka, and WordPress
-Software Files in File Manager

Unit Four: Lauren
Lecture: Using WordPress
Workshop: Designing Your Site

-Overview of the WordPress Dashboard
-How posts, pages, widgets, and menus on the back end correlate to your front-end website
-Recommended Themes, Plugins, and Widgets for getting started
-Refresher: What you’ve learned & what you’ve done

Presentation Slides:

Links for Case Studies:

+ Slide 3: html.labrumfield.com
+ Slides 4-5: labrumfield.com
+ Slide 18: baltimoreuprising2015.org
+ Slide 19: slavery.georgetown.edu/timeline
+ Slide 20: blackquotidian.com

 

Documentation April

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve made it my mission to build on, add to, and update documentation articles at Reclaim Hosting. This was inspired after our last Workshop of One’s Own event when attendees asked what other schools had done to tweak and add to their DoOO projects. How were schools changing their homepage? How were they handling community support? How were they handling graduating students and their data?

I created a new category on the Workshop of One’s Own Documentation called Customizing your DoOO. This topic is still very much a work in progress, but my goal is to make this a full list of everything that can be safely done or added to a DoOO instance without fear of “breaking the system”. It will include everything from different pages and elements that we can add to a DoOO system, to editing a Domain of One’s Own WordPress theme.

One of the most common “extras” that DoOO schools ask for is the Templated Community Documentation. These are articles written specifically for the students and faculty using Domain of One’s Own. They were written originally by the OU Create team, and were later shared and expanded at other schools. So when new schools start a DoOO Pilot and ask for this documentation, we would copy from one of these existing schools to the new school. This was hardly a bad system, but it’s always bothered me a little bit that we were handing off documentation with another school’s logo on it. It just doesn’t scream “here’s your fresh copy”.

And since every DoOO Project looks a little different, the documentation will look a little different as well. For instance, we have some schools that buy top-level domains for all users and give them access to everything that the default cPanel provides. By contrast, other Domain of One’s Own schools only support WordPress, and have stripped the cPanel down to the very basics. So what may be true for one school may not be true for another. In addition, Reclaim underwent a pricing change a couple of years ago for shared hosting plans & top-level domains to accommodate for ID Protect. What’s more, when software upgrades take place, screenshots need to be updated. And plugins that were relevant 2-3 years ago may now be abandoned by their developers.

I mention all of the above to show that there are clearly a ton of outliers that can lead to a miscommunication and/or change in documentation. So it was time that Reclaim Hosting took ownership of the existing documentation to create a centralized hub of always correct, always up-to-date information. That way any school writing their own docs can always look back at this resource and pull articles that are relevant to their specific projects.

For instance, the team at emerson.build wrote a great article on getting up and running with the Neatline plugin in an Omeka instance. We get questions about this plugin all the time at Reclaim Hosting, so I’m thrilled for finding it! But it also helped reiterate this very real theme surrounding documentation: we need to do more sharing as a Domain of One’s Own community, and Reclaim Hosting needs to help facilitate that. I’m sure there are plenty of schools that would benefit from that Neatline article as I have, so now they can find that article, along with a compiled list of others on State University’s new documentation site: stateu.org/docs

Which brings me to my next point: If you’ve written documentation for your DoOO community, you may receive an email from me in the next couple of weeks asking for permission to add your article to the main hub. You’ve been warned. :) Alternatively, if you’ve written articles that you think would be a good addition to this main list, please contact me!

And while I’m on the subject of creating documentation, I can’t write this post without mentioning the recent work that Chris, Reclaim’s intern, has been doing for the Reclaim Youtube Channel. We’ve been working together on prioritizing videos that Reclaim needs in terms of tutorials, and he’s created some really great stuff so far. (Examples: Easy Site Cloning with Installatron, Backup Tools, & Adding WordPress Themes and Plugins)

His most recent tutorial, and easily my favorite video so far, is Understanding FTP, Part 1. (Part 2 will be on troubleshooting FTP!)

 

You can find these video tutorials on Youtube, of course, but also embedded in their corresponding written articles on Reclaim Hosting’s main documentation site.

Transparent WPMS Pricing Model

Managed hosting for WordPress Multisites is a something that Reclaim Hosting has always willingly taken on behind the scenes, but it was never formally offered to the public. And by “formally offered to the public”, I mean listed as a product option on our website. Well… gone are those days!

I wanted to put up a post quickly today to shout from the mountaintops that anyone wanting managed WPMS hosting can now do that through Reclaim (if they didn’t already know that they could.) What’s more, we have a handy-dandy calculator on the WPMS webpage that will give you a pretty good idea of what it will cost. Creating the calculator, surprisingly, was probably more helpful for us be the scenes than folks may realize. Pre-WPMS webpage, we priced these projects on a case by case basis: What will support look like? How about offsite backups? Will migration fees be determined by users or data?

While there are still outlier cases no matter how we price this (support-intensive scenarios, for example), we’ve now standardized the costs associated with a managed WordPress Multisite instance for all educational institutions to see clearly. So when we give the option to choose an 8GB server at $40/month, that’s literally what Digital Ocean will charge us on a monthly basis for their infrastructure; Reclaim Hosting is not upcharging anything. Similarly, it costs Reclaim Hosting $35/mo for the necessary cPanel software & firewall licenses, and an average of $50/month for us to 30 days of reliable, offsite backups. Its completely transparent, and I love that.

^Feel free to watch the above screencast on using the calculator. Please note that its meant to estimate your monthly cost, so that’s why selecting the one-time fee for setting up Single Sign-On integration is not included in the final quote.

As you begin to make your server calculations and are unsure which server setup may make sense for your school, click the line above server size that reads …click here for our recommendations.

And just like that, our recommendations will appear!

Lastly, the bottom of the calculator turns into an inquiry form which is one of my favorite parts of this page, I think. Once you calculate your server requirements, you can click the “next” button, fill out your personal details, and click submit. Your specific selections & questions are then sent to support@reclaimhosting.com, where a Reclaim staff member will greet you with the next steps, provide clarification, and send you a formal quote. Boom!

See the WordPress Multisite webpage here.