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Creating a Local Offer that's more personal to you

Published Thursday 14 May 2020

Since its launch, the Local Offer has tried to be as reactive as possible to any feedback received from our users. We are constantly exploring new ways to improve the site and your online experience with us. With this in mind we wanted to share with you two new ideas that we hope will do just that.

Guided Advice - Helping people that don't know what they need

The inspiration behind the first of our two ideas (or projects, as we often call them) came as a result of learning that most families, who have a child or young person with SEND, are forced to sacrifice hours of their (already jam-packed) day scouring the internet to find helpful and relevant resources. This got us thinking about what we could do to enable them to steal back a few precious hours, and our thoughts turned to producing some kind of tool that could do the legwork for them. Recently we've been building on this idea and have drafted up some plans for a Guided Advice Tool that we can incorporate into the Local Offer.


Ilustration of buttons with the words 'results tailored to you' written on them


The most common example of what we call a Guided Advice Tool can be found on your favourite online store. When shopping online, we are all familiar with the process of selecting a few tick-boxes, inputting some of our details and then hey presto, a list of personalised results appear on our screens designed to meet our needs. It would be wonderful to be able to achieve a similar personalised result on the Local Offer as we know it would really make a difference to the lives of families in Hertfordshire that have a child or young person with SEND.

Directory Integration - Bringing advice and support together

As you know, the Local Offer is built to let families know exactly what they are entitled to and what the council can do for you. Something that you may also be aware of is the Hertfordshire Directory, a catalogue that lists all of great support organisations from the voluntary sector in Hertfordshire (and beyond). At the moment we know that many of the families that use the Local Offer don't know that these invaluable organisations exist, and this is something we want to address. To do this we have started research on a Directory Integration project. We want to explore the idea of pulling details about these organisations straight from the Hertfordshire Directory on to the Local Offer.


Image of stage lights shining on text below

If we manage to bring this project to life it will give us the chance to shine a much needed light (albeit a LED one), on the many great services and organisations available to families in Hertfordshire. It will also allow us to ensure that our users only need to visit one website.

Collaboration

To get the ball rolling on both ideas (and to stop us before we got too carried away with them), we tested initial workings with families in Hertfordshire. We held two parent sessions in March 2020, one hosted by HPCI and the other by Carer’s in Herts, with the aim of gaining valuable insight into how best to move these potential projects forward if at all. For our Directory Integration concept, we asked parents to interact with wireframes (basic webpage designs), so that we could observe and record exactly what you liked and disliked about the webpages, and idea as a whole. We also measured from the way you navigated the pages, how user friendly our initial designs were. Below are some of our findings.


wireframe illustration with annotations

The above wireframe was actually tested with parents.

A small synopsis or description of the service or organisation is invaluable.

You wanted to know specifically what  needs can a service or club cater for.

Searching by town name works better than a postcode search.

For our Guided Advice Tool idea, we decided to test what questions we may need to ask parents in order to create the ideal tailored results to each response. Once again, we recorded patterns in your feedback in order to better our workings going forward. Below are some of our key findings.

There must be an option for a parent to input details about more than one child.
Young people will also be using the tool, and have their own set of needs.
 Some families have very specific situations which need to be considered.

We are still listening

In conclusion, we still have lots to do and are unable at this point to promise an end result, however our learnings so far are allowing us to move forward in lots of different ways. We are now working on things like refining prototypes ready for further user testing and building new and improved wireframes to help us perfect some possible designs. We promise to be back in touch with a further update in no time at all, so do watch this space!

If you'd like to be involved in the development of these projects join the SEND online feeeback group.

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Cookies we use

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Take a look at a list of cookies we use on our website:

NameTypeHow we use itHow long we use the information for

ASP.Net_Sessions

 

Required functionality

An automatic cookie set by our software. 

Just for the time you are on our website.

ServerID

 

Required functionality

An automatic cookie set by our software. 

Just for the time you are on our website.

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Required functionality

To track the effectiveness of our website using Google Analytics. 

2 years

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Performance and feature

To save the pages that you visit by clicking the heart at the top of the page. 

1 month

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Performance and feature

This stores your postcode (or partial postcode) when we ask you for your location.

Just for the time you are on our website or 30 days (you choose this).

geoCoordinates

Performance and feature

This stores your location as a pair of latitude / longitude coordinates.

Just for the time you are on our website or 30 days (you choose this).

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Performance and feature

This keeps a history of all answers submitted to the ready reckoner.

This is set in the control for each ready reckoner. If you haven't interacted with the ready reckoner for the set amount of days, the cookies are deleted.

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Performance and feature

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Required functionality

This used to track user sessions on forms hosted on eservices.hertfordshire.gov.uk

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There are links and content from other sites and services on our website. These sites and services set their own cookies.

Below are a list of cookies that the other sites and services use:

Service namePurposeMore information

Google analytics (_utma/b/c/z)

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Cookies of the same names are also used for the same purpose by other websites such as Building FuturesCountryside Management Service and Hertfordshire LIS.

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Google

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