The publishing platform created by councils, for councils.

Directories Show and Tell

Will Callaghan, project lead here at LocalGov Drupal, reflects on a recent Directories Show and Tell that we ran alongside Greenwich Council.

The two hour session was attended by over 60 individuals from councils right across the UK, all of whom are looking to improve their directories offering.


It was fantastic to see so many people turn out for the session on directories recently. A big thanks to all those who presented and participated.


You can find a video of the session on our Youtube channel >


Directories show and tell. Screen grab from Youtube


At the event we heard insights from five councils and LocalGov Drupal:

We didn’t present a deck, rather links to design mockups, live sites and the admin view that a content designer sees. You can see most of these links below.


Energy and ideas

The fact that it was so well attended suggests a couple of things:

  1. There is a very real desire among councils to collaborate on projects and LocalGov Drupal is ready to help make this happen.
  2. Councils are probably not that satisfied with their directories (or at least their users aren’t) so there is a demand for some more thinking and work in this area. We know that this is underway in various guises not least with us - directories work is part of our collective Product Roadmap with more work due to start on them later this year.


But was it useful?

It was great that so many speakers came forward and wanted to share their insights and work. I certainly found the session useful for a few reasons.

At a basic level, there are features all of our products need - for example, the ability for users to search by location. We ought to research these features together, and share the findings so that they can be provided by a variety of platforms, including ours. 

We need to think bigger though - as Greenwich is doing - about the information that users need, when they need it, how they find it, keeping it up to date and accurate, plus more besides. The work that Open Referral is doing on data standards is vital here, and all councils should support it.

It reminds me of my introduction to Open Referral. In this video, the founder of Open Referral, Greg Bloom, talks about his grandmother “being the Google of her day”. A source of accurate authoritative knowledge that a community can count on. This is a job we need to take on, together.  


We’d love to hear from you 

There was a clear desire to have another session on directories later in the year to follow up on everything that was discussed. 

We’re very happy to help facilitate this again. 

As mentioned above we’re due to form a Directories Working Group later this year to further develop our own directories offering. 

We’ll try to use a second session as a springboard for this.

Please let us know if you’re interested in presenting at a second directories session.


A note on diversity

The audience was quite diverse, but the speaker line wasn’t. When we run another session we’ll make every effort to fix this.

If you have any more comments, please let us know.


Background to the session

The Local Digital Fund has provided resources to do some great work around directories over recent years. 

This includes: 

  • Open Referral Standards
  • LocalGov Drupal in our BETA phase 
  • The recent award to Greenwich for community directory work.

Some great work has already been done building off the back of this funding. This includes three brilliant examples of where LocalGov Drupal has been used to improve directories:

There is also more work being undertaken to further improve our directories code base:

  • Location search (being built by Essex)
  • Importing data
  • Displaying data where users are looking
  • Editing by third parties (not just council content designers)
  • Conversations with a planning team about use in Local Plan etc



LocalGov Drupal directories resources

Our demosite (content designers can put these anywhere in the IA)

More directories resources

The open referral project

Shared council resources

Huntington council user research

SENA Phase 2 – Huntingdonshire District Council Projects (

Buckinghamshire Councils the research hypotheses

The directory created by Buckinghamshire based on the work above

Essex County Council content standards

Essex County Council discovery research

Essex County Council local directory offer week notes

Dorset Council research on the applicability of chatbots for services (as an alternative to and to complement directories)


Two Google slides show with example of live API links.

istandUK - A project trying to work towards dismantling some of barriers around APIs (a DLUHC funded project)

Model for place-based dos.


Share your research and resources with the community

If you have more research on directories then please share them with us. We’ll post here and share with the wider community.

This conversation for the Show and Tell session started on the LocalGov Digital Slack channel and we would recommend joining. 

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