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!

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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Register now for the FIS and Local Offer Focus Group

We would like to invite our Family Information Services and Local Offer customers to join us in a virtual forum to share best practice and discuss ideas for new functionality or features to improve the reach and usability of our Local Offer websites.

October 20 10:00am – 11:30am

Please fill in the short registration form here:

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Directory Administration Re-design is Live!

The back end administration of your Directory platform now has a new look and feel. This is a first step in modernising our directory platform, and we very much hope that you like using the re-design.

The administration area has been updated to align with our latest brand guidelines. In doing so we’ve been able to make some small but significant improvements to the visual appearance of the platform. Using the Idox brand colour palette, we’ve improved accessibility by reducing the number of distinct colours in use while increasing colour contrast where possible. This has resulted in a lighter, more modern visual design and, into the bargain, has allowed the design team to explore and identify further future improvements.

Please be assured that there is absolutely no change to functionality.
The changes are exclusive to the look and feel.

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Accessible alt text for images

Adding alternative text (usually referred to as alt text) for images is one of the first principles of web accessibility, but it is also one of the most difficult to properly implement.
Alt text serves several functions:

  • It is read aloud by screen readers in place of images allowing the content and function of the image to be accessible to those with visual or certain cognitive disabilities.
  • It is displayed in place of the image in browsers if the image file is not loaded.
  • It provides a semantic meaning to images which can be ‘understood’ by search engine AIs.

Getting the alt text right often takes some thought, and therefore some time!

Although every image must have an alt attribute, there are certain instances when it is correct to leave the attribute value blank. A simple question you can ask is: “is this image purely decorative or does it convey information?”

It’s often stated that logos specifically, must always have alt text. This is because a logo is often used to discreetly remind the user what the context of the current page is. In the case of all the logos in your Directory results listings however, the logo invariably appears alongside the listing’s title, and therefore SELDOM gives the sighted user any additional information. In other words when there is text adjacent to the image giving you the same information, then alt text could be considered redundant in some cases.
Try and imagine listening to the content of your results page being read aloud by a screen reader. You’ve just heard the current record title: “ABC care services”, so you don’t need to hear the EXACT same thing announced again when the screen reader gets to the logo.

The latest Directory wireframe comes with a new feature which allows all your content editors to now review and edit their own image alt text.
Speak to your account manager in the first instance to enquire about a Directory refresh.

(Further reading:

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Adding videos to your pages

Hosting online videos is a tricky and expensive process. Videos are resource hogs. Their files are very large compared to a page of text, and bandwidth requirements are also bigger. If a video is popular, it can grind the performance of your entire website to a halt.

For this reason, we have always advised hosting your videos on YouTube.

Any YouTube video (or even a playlist of videos) can easily be hosted on any of the editable pages on your site.  Follow the instructions in the link below, and simply paste the code that YouTube gives you into an editable content section of your page.

YouTube help page > Embed a video or playlist:

A word on accessibility.
Videos are a great way of conveying information to a wider audience, but consider the deaf, or the person who cannot play sound on their computer or device. It’s common nowadays to include a video transcript below a video.

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Inaugural Directory customer newsletter

This week we published the first of our Directory customer newsletters that we hope you have received by email, but you can also view it here.

Read about our collaboration earlier this year with Coram Family and Childcare, updates from our Local Offer online forums, our new FIS Directory website page, and an insight into the work being carried out with imin to offer a third-party integration service for directories. Sign up here to be included in future emails.

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Are you HTTPS yet?

HTTPS, the lock icon in the address bar, an encrypted website connection – it’s known as many things.

The “S” in HTTPS stands for “Secure”. It’s the secure version of the standard “hypertext transfer protocol” your web browser uses when communicating with websites.

HTTPS was originally intended for passwords, payments, and other sensitive data, but the web has evolved and now everything is moving towards secure connections.

When you connect to a website with regular HTTP, your browser looks up the IP address that corresponds to the website, and then connects to it. It just assumes it’s connected to the correct web server, and data is sent over the connection in clear text. An eavesdropper on a Wi-Fi network, your internet service provider, or other nefarious intelligence agencies could see the web pages you’re visiting and record the data you’re sending.

For internet service providers, your browsing history is actually a potential revenue stream. Many ISPs compile anonymous browsing logs to sell to marketing companies.

There is now a common consensus and a desire to move to HTTPS. All the newest standards designed to make the web faster, require an HTTPS connection.
Google is actively making HTTP unattractive by penalizing websites for using it. They plan to flag websites that don’t use HTTPS as unsafe in Chrome, and want to prioritize websites that use HTTPS in their search results.

If your site doesn’t yet have a certificate talk to your IT department, in the first instance, about generating a Certificate Signing Request – which is essentially just filling in a very short form.
Our support team is very experienced in adding SSL certificates and are always on hand to advise.

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