Web

Coin Toss – the 100% cheat-proof way to flip a coin over the internet

Coin Toss – the 100% cheat-proof way to flip a coin over the internet

This is one of those daft side projects that’s so low priority that it’s actually been lying dormant for the last six months. Conceived during an absent-minded chat with Dom from work (“Who’s going to send the email round about the team trip to Nando’s? How do we decide?”) Coin Toss is a way of flipping a coin with a friend over the internet without any possibility of cheating.

You name your terms, send them a link, and they initiate the toss. Once they’ve clicked ‘Go’, anyone can replay the toss. But there’s no cheating – once the coin toss has been watched once, it’s marked as such. Like those security seals on jam jars.

Anyway, it makes more sense if you have a go yourself. Feel free to test it out on me via the Twitter link provided – I’m @BDHorrigan.

http://cointoss.benhorrigan.com/

A 50p coin and the words 'Coin Toss'
Several online coin tossing options are available, but most of them are pretty boring, liable to rigging, or require both users to be online at the same time.

My epiphany about the nature of homepages

My epiphany about the nature of homepages

Yes, this is one of those strange meta posts that’s about the website in which the post is contained. My apologies.

I’m just about ready to let my new site loose in the real world, and that’s thanks to an epiphany I’ve had in the last few days. For ages I was agonising over one single issue: what should my homepage look like? How should it function? What is it even there for? I didn’t know whether it should house all the content on the site, or be a dump for everything that didn’t fit into my three categories (design, music, media) or just be a static page with a generic ‘hello there, well done for finding my website’ message. Sure, any one of those three options might be a bit boring, but there has to be some sort of meaningful content on that homepage because it’s right there at the front of the nav menu!

The ‘innovation report’ leaked by the New York Times a couple of weeks ago is, if you didn’t know already, a really big deal. It outlines the future of the company in a very honest and self-critical way, highlighting several key areas where it has failed to keep up with changes in technology and changes in media consumption habits. One of the big main points it makes is that the NYT has been putting a whole load of effort into how its homepage looks, and how its main section fronts look, and how its print front cover looks – when actually that’s just not how most people consume media any more. When people discover an article they didn’t already know about, it most likely happens through social media. When people do know an article exists, but don’t have it bookmarked, they’ll most likely google it. The same is true for the CBBC website (which I help run at work) and the same is true for my personal website.

So that’s how I arrived at the revelation that not only could I let go of that pressure to make my homepage something impressive and meaningful, but that I could in fact feel free to remove the ‘home’ link from my nav bar altogether! The homepage still exists, of course – it simply brings in all my latest posts. But by taking it off the nav bar I’m streamlining the user experience and encouraging people to skip straight to the category they’re interested in.

The facade of Hale House in LA.
The facade of Hale House in LA. Why do we put so much effort into homepages, when they've become so unimportant?

Wedding website

Wedding website

It’s common now for couples who are getting married to set up a website with information about the wedding. Naturally, since I’m getting married in July, I’ve jumped on the bandwagon.

The design is very minimalist, with each page of information following the same format and including plenty of space. The only functional element – besides text, images and links to more information – is a contact form and Twitter widget.

The entire site, except for the outcome page of the contact form, is contained within one page, interspersed with full-screen photos of Ellie and me. Clicking links in the floating nav bar (or the up/down arrows on the right-hand side) causes the browser to scroll down smoothly to the requested page, which feels much more fluid and elegant than a conventional multi-page site. This uses a jQuery script which can be found here.

The edited photos were done in Photoshop. I blurred Ellie and me slightly, and the background more so, then applied a red and cream gradient overlay to reflect the wedding’s colour scheme.

Screenshot of my wedding website
Minimalist, spacious design – with just the right amount of elegance and panache