Planned enhancements to Media Manager

We are currently planning enhancements to the Directory Platform’s Media Manager as part of next year’s roadmap, and we’ll be sharing the details of this with customers soon.

In the meantime, we have created a quick user guide of how the Media Manager app currently works as a reference for customers. Over the coming months, we will also be creating other new quick guides to support customers to get the most from the Directory platform.

To access the document please log on to our Hornbill Support Portal > My Services > DirectoryHubs > Documents Tab

Directory Change Requests

As part of a series of improvements that we are making to better support our Directory customers, we are introducing a new dedicated resource to facilitate Directory website change requests. We hope that, over the coming months, that you will see a significant improvement in the timeliness of our responses to these.

As we introduce this new resource, we are currently undertaking a full review of existing change requests and are asking some customers to confirm that some of their change requests are still valid/ required. This may be due to the age of the ticket or because you are currently engaged with us in a website refresh project.

This is important as we would not wish to implement change requests that have since been superseded by more recent changes that may have been made to your website or a current refresh project. We will be asking you to confirm if the change request is still required on our Hornbill support portal, so please look out for the messages over the coming week.

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Our latest Directory refresh goes live!

This week, Islington Council went live with their brand-new multi-channel directory website.

Built on our latest wireframe, the website’s unique design is a great example of how their strong brand, fyi, brings together multiple channels of information, advice, and guidance for a clear and cohesive user journey.

Check it out here:

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Homes for Ukraine – Message from DfE

The Department for Education understands that you may be receiving queries from childminders in England that are keen to join the many others who have signed-up to host people from Ukraine under the Homes for Ukraine scheme and Ukraine Family Scheme. Please find a link below which provides guidance for childminders who may have signed up to support the Ukraine schemes:

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Our Ideas Hub is getting a new home

Raising new ideas and viewing, commenting on and voting for ideas contributed by other local authorities will remain at the heart of how you can engage with us. We are building on this by making it a dedicated space for our Directory community and improving progress updates on the ideas that we are actively considering and working on.

To do this means moving the existing ideas to a brand new Directory Ideas Portal.

What is moving?

The space for raising ideas for changes to the Directory Platform. Included will be all existing ideas that are not completed or otherwise closed. In addition, all existing users will be moved and shall retain links to their ideas.

What is not moving?

Any ideas that have been completed or otherwise closed.

Unfortunately, we will be unable to move existing comments previously made against ideas. However, we will retain all those comments internally for reference in our consideration and planning.

When are Ideas moving?

The move will happen on Monday, 4th April and all existing users will soon receive an email invitation to complete registration on the new portal.

Should you have any questions, please let me know.

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Directory platform maintenance

Dear valued customer

To conclude our current Directory platform maintenance programme, a final hardware upgrade is required to ensure the ongoing performance and resilience of our hosting environments.

We have scheduled this upgrade to take place on Thursday, April 28th 2022, starting at 12pm.

During the upgrades, there may be disruption to your services. This may result in your directory website(s) being unavailable as well as back-office directory administration access.

The upgrade will start at 12pm and we expect work complete by approximately 16:30pm. As soon as the work is complete, and Services are back, we will communicate this to you.

We appreciate that this may cause inconvenience to you and your users, and we will try and complete the work as quickly as possible We thank you for your understanding.

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Programmatic SPAM

We have received reports from some of our customers that their Directory websites have been the targets of programmatic SPAM.

As per our development roadmap, we are actively developing a new Google reCAPTCHA solution to actively prevent this from happening. Please be assured that our Development Team continue to look at this as their top priority, and we hope to have a resolution soon.

In the meantime, if we can assist any way, for example, by temporarily disabling feedback forms on your website, please log a call with our Service Desk and we will look to action these as soon as possible.

Thanks for your patience whilst we work to get this resolved.

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Merry Christmas from the Directory team

Despite the challenges of remote working and online meetings, 2021 has been a big success for Idox’ Directory Platform.

We’ve had some very productive planning meetings with many of you to re-evaluate, holistically, the changing requirements of your individual websites. We look forward to engaging with even more of you in 2022.

We have already deployed newly designed and fully accessibility compliant Directory websites for Sefton, Thurrock, Middlesbrough and Central Bedfordshire and are currently working on many more.

We also deployed the rebranded and more usable Datastore admin interface.

We hosted several very well attended user forums, which allowed many of you to exchange contact details and ideas.
Based on your feedback we are now focussed on delivering improvements to help you maintain your quality information, and we then have plans to improve the way users find and share information.
Please contact your Account Manager for a copy of our product roadmap.

In January 2022, Idox will be engaging with customers to explore what could be developed as an additional module on our platform to provide better triage or signposting to relevant or personalised information. This engagement will initially be specifically focussed on Special Educational Needs and Disabilities and our Local Offer websites.

And finally… we welcome a new account manager:
Conrad Maskell joins our team today as a new Account Manager for the Directory Platform and EHC. Conrad will be in touch with customers soon to introduce himself. In the meantime, Conrad can be contacted on

Wishing you all a happy, healthy and prosperous 2022!

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Recent Local Offer & FIS Forum

Thank you for attending our recent online Local Offer & FIS forum. We have already circulated a recording of the session – please let us know if you have not been able to access/ download this.

SEND Local Offer Workshop – Jan 2022

We would like to engage customers in exploring the possibility of building a screening, triage or navigation tool that could help parents, carers and young people find more personalised or tailored information on your Directory platform. The session has been arranged for Tuesday, January 18th, 2022. You can now register for this workshop on our website

Provider Updates

We are working on making improvements to our Provider Updates functionality. The aim is to make it easier for providers to access and update their records. We are currently progressing our designs and will be sharing these with you soon for your feedback. As well as gathering your own feedback from providers, we discussed setting up a short provider feedback workshop to gather their views. This has now been scheduled for Wednesday, December 1st , 2021. Please share the following link with your providers to sign up via our website:

There was some doubt around Providers engaging in this workshop and therefore we will monitor sign ups and decide if it remains a viable way of consulting.

Data feeds

A key tool in maintaining content-rich websites is the ability to automatically harvest data from trusted sources. Being able to supplement locally curated information with quality open data from sources such as the NHS can really enhance your website. We already harvest data from Ofsted, CQC and IMIN, and as part of our roadmap, we are making changes to our data harvesting tool to make it easier to bring in more of these automated data feeds.
We would therefore like to know from our customers, what other data feeds you would find beneficial? Please record your suggestions on our Ideas Hub.

If you have any further questions or queries, please do not hesitate to contact your account manager directly or get in touch through our website.

Social Media Management

When we start Directory refresh projects, we always ask: “do you actively maintain social media channels associated with this site?”

We recently met with the Trafford Directory team who, it turns out, have a very active and well established process around social media.

“For our FIS & SENDIASS social media channels, we tend to steer our information towards parents/ carers, but we like to make some of our children’s activity posts more appealing to children/ young people with the images and graphics we use.
We use Hootsuite to make, schedule and post content onto Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, making around 30 posts per week on a wide range of topics.
We chose Twitter & Facebook because lots of parents use them. Instagram is used because there is a wider audience out there which ranges from the young to the elderly… plus the posts are easy to interact with.”

Alex Heald | Kick-start Trainee | FIS | Trafford Council

Social Media has a unique reach. You could hold a list of email contacts for every SEND family in your area but they probably won’t all thank you for emailing them every week with news and events. Updates on social media are different because the user chooses to go and look at their feed.

A key to marketing anything is to understand your audience. What age group does your Directory reach? What devices do they use to visit your site? How often do they return to your site? Let’s be honest, the greatest Directory site on Earth is never going to be revisited more frequently that someone’s favourite social media feed!

We’ve found lots of slightly differing statistics, but generally they all show that nationally, about 7 in 10 of the population are on social media and that Facebook still has the biggest reach by far.

Out of 45 million UK social media users, 43 million use Facebook. The most common age group on Facebook and on Instagram are 25 to 34 years old. The notion that the younger crowd has totally ditched Facebook isn’t quite true but it’s definitely not the under 30’s #1 platform.

According to the studies, if you want to reach teenagers, you’re just gonna have to investigate TikTok  😉



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