Cool WordPress Plugins – Stuff You Should Be Using

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wordpress

WordPress is awesome, if you want an easy to use CMS that has functionality you would never dream of developing then you need to be using it now.

One of the coolest things about WordPress are the millions of plugins that extend the functionality, there are so many to chose from its a little tough to work out where to start – here are a few of my favourites both paid and free.

I will not be going over them in great detail here and some of them will require further follow up posts to dig deeper in to what they can do. (more…)

New Features of Windows 8.1 – Top Ten Updates

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windows-8.1-top-ten-features

The MS Windows operating system has been has been about now for almost 30 years (see wikipedia here), starting with Windows V1 in 1985. This was not a native operating system but an operating environment that would sit on MS DOS and would try to make things a little more visually appealing for the consumer to little avail.

I have been a Microsoft Windows user for almost the same amount of time its been around, I remember the good old days of booting up to a nice command line and then running my OS operating environment… I must have installed Windows 3.11 thousands and thousands of times.

Fast forward to now and we have Windows version 8 and the recently updated 8.1.

For anyone who skipped previous version of Windows this may be worth a look, there are a number of smart new features, benefits that could make your life easier, let take a look: (more…)

Comparing Knife Comparison Websites

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Getting the best deal and making your money go the furthest it possibly can is something that’s always at the forefront of any shoppers mind. Before, shoppers had to trawl through countless websites comparing product after product, price after price, shipping estimates on shipping estimates and delivery charges on top of delivery charges. Well since the seemingly endless expansion of the internet, shopping has become both easier yet more difficult. With absolutely anyone capable of setting up an online store these days, your amount of choice has gone through the roof, and the best deals aren’t always harder to find. Well, until recently.

In recent years, many companies have taken to creating price and feature comparison websites, as well as whole websites dedicated to helping customers find the best deals for products. I’m sure that you have been aware of such comparison websites, particularly when you are looking for insurance, credit cards and loans. Where before comparison sites were restricted to these themes, recent expansions have seen them take a whole new role when it comes to helping us part with our hard earned money. Currently, comparison sites still really only dominate insurance and credit cards, but there’s more and more momentum being placed into a more away from just that one niche in the market…

Take one of my personal favorites, Hot UK Deals. This deals website allows everyday shoppers like you and me to post what they think are bargain prices for products. Other users can then vote on whether they think it’s a “hot” deal, or a “cold” deal i.e. not a bargain. Each deal then gets an overall temperature, helping you gauge which deals are the best. With handy sections for hottest deals of the day, week, month and year, the site ticks all the boxes. That’s without mentioning the mobile site and dedicated iOS and Android apps, which which you can chose to have deals containing certain keywords pushed to your handset before they expire.

These advancements have also taken shape in other websites, and I’m sure many sites will be adopting a similar approach in the years to come. It’s only a matter of time before the ease of finding the best deals kills the high street, unless of course it’s those retailers offering hot, hot prices. The tech revolution’s reach seems to be spreading much further than originally expected, and I for one am loving the direction that it’s going in. The further these comparison and bargain hunting sites can spread the better in my opinion.

Another great comparison site they’ve managed to spread themselves to is the Folding Knife HQ, which is full of deals, reviews and useful information, in readable articles such as this.

Using this comparison website has helped me fill the void for a folding knife tool in my life. As an tech professional, I’m not adverse to modding hardware, and to do this I’m going to need some tools. Where precision tools are recommended, sometimes you just need a good, old fashioned folding knife to cut through those cables or pry apart an enclosure. Where they may not be as pretty as the precision tools, they are just as if not more effective in places. Check out their website if you have a similar void to fill.

Online Shopping: Getting the Best Deals on Everything You Need for Your Home

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Shopping today is nothing like it was like even just a few years ago. Now, you don’t even have to get in your car and go shopping from place to place to find the best deals. Thanks to all of the technological developments emerging today, you can just sit back and compare any products that you’re interested in without the hassle of traditional shopping.

Best Price Comparison Sites and Apps Today

No one can ignore the true power of the online shopping realm. The convenience of the entire experience is enough to draw most people in, whether they’re shopping for high-quality cookware on sites like this or if they just can’t make up their minds and are starting from scratch and visiting stores to view pots and pans in person. The best part? Many of these sites are also available in the app store, meaning that you can also use them on your iPad, iPhone, or other mobile device.

1. Slickdeals – Many sites today are fueled by users and Slickdeals is one of them. Slickdeals allows users to post deals that they know to the site, sharing them with other users and making it easier to find deals and look up deals if you’re interested on something from a specific site.

2. RetailMeNot – RetailMeNot is another major player in the online shopping realm, making it simple for people to find active coupons and the specifications for coupon use all in one convenient location. This means that you can compare the deals you would get on various sites for the high-quality products you’re on the hunt for.

3. Coupons.com – Coupons.com is another great deals site, as it collects coupons from all across the web and also compiles them in just one place. You can use these coupons either in store or online so you can always go and check out the items you want to buy before you do.

4. PriceBlink – PriceBlink is one of our personal favorites because it sets up alerts when you’re online shopping if a better deal can be found elsewhere. This helps you avoid the mistake of buying something, thinking that you’re getting a good deal, to then later realize that you could have gotten a lower price elsewhere.

5. RedLaser – RedLaser is one of the best apps that you can use if you’ve already went to a store to look at the item that you’re interested in in person. By just scanning the barcode of the item with this application, you can compare prices at multiple stores to know where you should buy it from in order to get the best deal.

Shopping Made Easy

Of course, we’re fans of everything related to developments in the technological field, especially when it comes to apps. However, visiting stores is becoming increasingly obsolete, especially when you can turn to cookware review sites, to go off of the example we provided above, or review sites for whatever you might be shopping for. This gives you real user reviews that make it easier to pick a set than if you were to go to the store and simply stare at your options.

Isn’t technology wonderful?

Get rid of outdated gear and Increase your Productivity

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Technology moves fast.

Remember that fancy 500gb harddrive that you got 5 years ago? It was top of the line then, but now it’s just a big clunker that’s out shined by your smaller, higher capacity external drives.

It’s good to purge, it’s good to clean out shop. Not just because it feels nice to get rid of all that extra stuff. It also makes room for new gear while padding your wallet to handle your next splurge.

Of course we all want to declutter. But we’re lazy about it.

Well let’s talk motivation.

Unfortunately, unless you’re looking to hold onto your gear for a LONG time; it’s not going to increase in value anytime soon.

That 40 inch vizio might still be relatively up to date; and worth $400 because of it. But give it one year, just one year, and it’ll be worth $200. Maybe even less.

Those hard drives you have. They’re still alright right now. But those new solid states? That’s the future. You’d be best off to head to Amazon and trade in your gear now and save up for the future. Or spend it now, considering the future is already here.

Maybe your not ready to upgrade. Maybe you don’t even want to; the thought of buying more stuff might even make you shudder.

Now why might this be? I’m going to take a guess that no ones visited your room for a long time… Has it got bad enough that you’d consider yourself a hoarder even? Is there a half eaten cup o’ noodle somewhere under your desk that you know you should have cleaned up 6 months ago but the daunting task of cleaning your way towards it has kept you at bay?

My friend, it’s time to clean house. You might not want to buy more stuff for your man cave; but you know that you sure need to get rid of some of what you have.

But you don’t have to just throw everything out (I hope not at least). If you dust off that Seagate 1 terabyte drive you got from Amazon that you have no use for anymore, well you might just be able to sell it or trade it in.

After that you’re $70 richer. What will you do with that $70? Well that’s up to you. You could spend it on some dish soap or clorox wipes. Then maybe you’ll have a chance at finishing up the deep clean.

But maybe you don’t want to focus on the small things. Maybe you’re ready to travel. Maybe your just ready to move. Maybe you’ve been ready for awhile, but the state of affairs in your dusty basement has held your ankles like a ball and chain.

Whatever it is that you decide to do, do it with pride and know that you’re moving forward with your life. You’re lightening your load and surely heading to some greener pastures.

The Story of How Software Ended Up in Our Vacuum Cleaners

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While we normally spend time on this blog talking about the advtanges and conveniences afforded by computer hardware and software, there are many other areas where technological advances are just starting to find their ways into our homes and lives.

A prime example of this is with home and kitchen ware items. Just when you think that you’ve seen everything and there’s no possibilities for advancement in this technology, products hit the market which push the envelope even for the most seasoned of tech.

An example would be the vacuum cleaner, believe it or not.

Using traditional vacuum cleaners can be very strenuous at times. The traditional types are very heavy and not easy to transport. Plus, there’s always that darn cord there to contend with.

For those and other reasons, the stick vacuum represents a huge leap forward and technological advancement for the vacuum.

Stick vacuums are one of the cordless cleaners that offer more and efficient ways of cleaning that the traditional vacuums cannot offer.

In fact, there are many parallels between how stick vacuums are disruptive technology in the homemaking market with software and hardware advancements in computing.

For example, let’s list the problems with traditional, corded vacuums. It helps to think of these as “mainframes” from the 1960s and how different those were form the mobile computing options available today:

- Traditional vacuums with cords waste time and drain energy at the same time. Looking for a jack to plug the cord into is always irritating.
- Sometimes the cord does not stretch far enough which frustrates the cleaner most times.

Now, in comparison to the new technology of the stick vacuum:

- The size is also manageable which makes storage easy.
- These cleaners are very flexible.
- They can be used on a variety of surfaces such as wooden floors, which traditional ones cannot perform well.
- Corners, sofas, bed mattresses and baseboards can also be cleaned easily using this type of vacuum cleaner.

What’s more, stick vacuums are made in such a way that they sit upright vertically. They allow the user to easily wheel it around without bending or carrying additional items on your back (like the cords).

Moreover, using embedded software and sensors, stick vacuums have check bag indicators that notify the user when the dust bag is full.

They say software is eating the world…well, now it looks like software is cleaning it too!

It also has self-sealing bags and buttons which are easy to reach. They provide extraordinary suction power making this type of vacuum cleaner outperform the traditional ones. It has a wind tunnel that gives a good edge cleaning. This will make short work of cat fur, dirt, cat litter, sand and popcorn since it provides little challenge for the brush system. The cordless brush system is easily adjustable by finger control. It therefore makes the transition of carpet to hardwood floors and vice versa easy. The stick have a large dirt canister, which is easy to remove and empty.

When it comes to color and style, there are many that a person can choose from. This is because the manufactures understand that the majority of the users are women. The colors range from orange to bright pink to more traditional colors like black and white. Your preference will be definitely be found. Las escobas electricas comes with a lithium-ion battery that maintains power over ninety percent of the battery charge. This enables provision of constant power when vacuuming. The lithium-ion battery is easy to remove from the vacuum cleaner and fit into the charger.

La escoba electrica — as they say south of the border — are also very cheap compared to traditional vacuums considering the extent and the convenience of cleaning that it comes with. Stick vacuum cleaners are a good investment for anyone who wants flexibility and efficiency in their cleaning.

When you take all these factors into consideration, it’s easy to see the parallels between stick vacuums to traditional vacuum cleaners with software and internet services taking out former brick and mortar industries. It’s yet another example and lesson of the long-reaching arm of technology.

The stick vacuum — a destructive industry in its own!

Apps for Controlling Ableton Live with iOS

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Anybody who enjoys making music on their computer with Ableton Live knows that inspiration doesn’t always wait till you’re in the studio! Sometimes you can be walking through the park, sitting in a cafe, or riding the subway when that melody pops into your head and you need to lay it down before it’s gone. Unfortunately not everybody carries around a MIDI controller everywhere they go. It’s times like these that you need to be able to control your DAW with your phone, or iPad.

Well, now you can!

In the past couple of years, developers have been working hard to get some great options out there for Apple and Android users to control Ableton with the use of their mobile devices. Below are a few of the top rated apps available that will ensure that you never miss a beat again!

TouchAble

TouchAble is the iOS only app which has both iPad and iPhone or iPod versions of the program. Produced by Berlin based Zerodebug, TouchAble has an expansive list of features, including: navigation, a resizable keyboard, dedicated views, MIDI note editor, adjustable velocity, auto mapping and so much more!

Conductr

Conductr is a streamlined approach to controlling Ableton Live. Simplifying the interface through separate viewing modes, which can be easily switched on a dime, means that you only see what you are working on without all the extra features that you are not using at the moment. Modes can be changed without interfering with track play, allowing the user total control at all times.
The clips module gives users access to the clips grid which they can easily navigate with the simple two finger swipe. The mixer module puts the track’s volume, mute, and faders to the forefront, which is great for live sets and producing a real feeling track because everything is happening in real time.
The only downside is that Conductr is also an iOS only application with no known plans to migrate to Android devices in the near future.

LIVKONTROL

LIVKONTROL, however, is an Android and iOS friendly app. This controller has got a little bit of everything. Great for live performances it has complete access to track parameters, faders, volume, as well as a huge bank of MIDI features like pads and sliders. Essentially this app will mimic the feel of a controller like the Novation LaunchPad, or Albeton Push controller.
What’s great about this is that with such a diverse set of features you can create almost unlimited sounds through the samples available on Ableton. Great for on-the-go production and producing unique synthesized sounds at the drop of a hat.

TouchOSC

TouchOSC is a great application designed for those users who know their DAW inside and out. Control OSC (open sound control) and other MIDI functions either through plugged connectivity, or over wifi for any other major DAWs such as: Logic Pro, Pro Tools, Ableton, Reason, Fruity Loops, Reaper, Native Instruments and so many more.
Again, this is an iOS only product, but it’s a must have for anybody moving into the advanced area of MIDI control.

While all of these apps are going to rock your world when it comes to mobile MIDI control, they all also come with a price. Ranging anywhere from $9.99 to $29.99, these apps are more than simple toys, they are a way for you to record your ideas on the go.

Going Through Some General Statistics

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Sitting in my office as the aroma of coffee fills the room, I am reading a recent Google report that says only 17% of the tech roles around the world are filled with women. I am surprised, and frankly quite disappointed.  I call my colleagues to take a look at the report as I head to the corner of the room where we recently installed the best drip coffee maker to keep our caffeine levels high. That is when I realize this must go on our blog.  So here I am, a male software engineer, writing about the male domination that underlines the world of technology unlike some other professions today.

An issue that needs to be raised:

You might find women like Sheryl Sandberg and Marissa Mayer leading companies like Facebook and Yahoo in the present world. However, what some might not be aware of is that they make the exceptions, not the norm. Currently, my team consists of four tech professionals. Two of them happen to be the most capable women I have ever met. Unlike most men, I am not ashamed to say that my female colleagues are more efficient and productive than me. In fact, it is not the case with my team only. According to a study by Net Impact, one third of the women are more suited for jobs that are meant to have an impact or make a difference, as compared to 17% men only. It can be visibly inferred from this that women are more prone to be productive at meaningful jobs and have a larger tendency to get incentive when their job is about something higher than themselves.

As my female colleagues sit across from me, urging us to get those electric meat smokers out this weekend and host an office barbecue, I wonder what could be the reason for women lagging behind in tech industry. One fairly obvious reason is that women are known to be generally lesser interested in technological advances and tech industry as compared to men. If we look at statistics in the professions of law and medicine, we see staggering rises in the number of females. However, tech industry remains a profession where most women choose to stay dependent on the men.

My purpose and take home message:

The primary reason I am writing this article today is to convince women who are craving to make an impact, that technology is where you can begin with. A simple line of code is all you need; if you are good then a simple line of code is all you need to make an impact across the globe. There is no reason why women can’t be as good as men when it comes to coding and programming. Especially with all the help available online, the online courses and programming clubs, women have the ability to step up their game and be a part of one of the most important and highly evolving industry today. It is high time technology, like medicine and law, starts benefiting with the contributions of women as well.

Essay Writing Apps That Can Save Students Time

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writing appQuite often, the hardest part of writing an essay is knowing where to begin. As with any big project, the best way to succeed is to make a plan and get some support. Students today don’t have to rely solely on the traditional ‘study group’ in order to get the insight, advice and support they need. Students with access to smartphones and tablets can make use of any of the following applications or sites like http://researchpaperforsale.net to help with paper writing.

PaperHelper (RumbleApps)

PaperHelper offers an easy way for writers to manage their written work while tackling research by splitting the screen in half, allowing students to summarize and quote directly from their sources without interrupting the natural flow of their writing. Having the screen split in half also helps to keep students on track by keeping their working draft right in front of them as they research, making it harder to get distracted along the way.

Evernote

Evernote has emerged to be one of those ‘jack of All Trades” applications which seem to fit no matter what the problem. For essay writers, Evernote offers a clean, clear and organized way to gather research from a variety of sources. Evernote can keep tags on websites, copied text, independent files and even image files or photos from your smartphone. Whether you find your research online, in dusty library stacks or out in the field, Evernote lets you bring everything together in one place as you begin to write your paper.

Papers (mekentosj.com)

For students who rely on independent papers and scholarly journals, the Papers app can be a lifesaver. Papers makes it easy to search any publication in your personal library with the ease of a common search engine. Papers also gives users access to papers listed through some of the most common sources, including

ACM
NASA-ADS
arXiv
Google Scholar
JSTOR
Pubmed
Web of Science

Chapters (Steven Romej)

Originally billed as an application to simply help with general writing, Chapters offers a way for students to organize notes, research and inspiration even when working on a number of different essays at one time. As most students already know, essay assignments don’t happen one at a time. Quite often, students find themselves juggling several different topics, outlines and assignment requirements. Using Chapters, students can create individual notebooks within the same app so they can keep track of notes and sources easily as well as being able to search individual notebooks or the collection as a whole.

EasyBib (Imagine Easy)

To put it simply, EasyBib has taken the academic world by storm. EasyBib takes the guesswork out of creating and formatting a bibliography for an essay, term paper or any work which uses citations. With nearly 60 different options for sources, it won’t matter where you’re getting your information, EasyBib can help you cite it correctly. For essay writers, EasyBib means that once you get the meat of your essay done, you won’t have to spend an extra week trying to figure out the citation and formatting issues.

Roku 3: The Best Streaming Device With Thousands of Roku Channels

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rokuRoku player is a type of set top box that is used for streaming roku channels over the Internet. This means that on can be able to receive roku channels from anywhere in the world by the use of a roku player using either wired or wireless connection. It operates as a USB device that can be plugged onto the Television set when one wants to watch say a movie. One can also connect the Internet to get the latest available content and also access the online content such as games. At the moment, Roku 3 is the latest Roku player in the market. It was released in March 2013. There are very many roku channels available that are streamed and can be accessed using a roku player. As a matter of fact there are over a thousand channels. One can watch movies, series, TV channels, store photos, listen to music and even play games using a roku player.

Roku 3 player has a lot of new as well as exciting features which include: free channels, fast speeds, remote control, head phone jack, storage capability and is easy to use.

Also, the remote control has a headphone jack which on can be able to plug in and listen to music, or listen to a favorite movie.

With roku 3 player one can receive the latest information in terms of weather, traffic updates, and latest news and receive the most current available information. This means that Roku 3 is a versatile device that works pretty well in a big city setting or even at home due to its immense capabilities as well as features.

No monthly subscription

This is one of the great features of Roku 3 player. When on acquires a roku player there are no monthly charges as the roku player comes loaded with free entertainment although some Roku channels do actually charge but one can opt not subscribe to these and watch only those channels that are free. Some of the premium channels available on the roku player include Netflix, Amazon, Hulu Plus and HBO Go. There are over a dozen free channesls available on the roku player such as Sky News, Pandora, One can also be able to connect to the Internet in case one needs to update the roku player or check for new roku channels available.

Free shipping

In some instances, free shipping is provided for example when buying from Amazon.com but this is dependent on certain conditions such as the buyer’s location. Therefore, one needs to verify if their location qualifies for this when purchasing this product.

Unbelievably Cheap

The roku player retail price is $99 dollars which is quite considering its immense features and capabilities as well as thousands of channels such as Netflix and Hulu. Thus one should not shy away from acquiring this great device.

The roku 3 player is no doubt a versatile and powerful entertainment gadget that offers entertainment whether one resides in a city or a small town. It can be bought online from major sites such as Amazon and who can also provide free shipping.

Should the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x Be Named the Best Headphones?

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We have previously covered a wide variety of hardware topics, now it is time to have a look closer at the current headphones market. We have had a look around to see which headphones are the most popular and highest rated right now, to see if we can name the best pair.

The title of this article is slightly provocative. However, the question is legitimate. If you search on Amazon for the currently overall highest rated pair of headphones, you will find that the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x comes up as number one with a rating of 4.8 out of 5. After all, Amazon is creditable and the largest source of user product reviews, therefore the rating is relevant.

Headphones review sites and other experts also generally agree that the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x is an outstanding pair of headphones. Headphones Unboxed for example, recently rated them as their first headphones choice. The question is – why are they so highly rated and popular?

Both users and experts press the high level of sound quality of the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x; many mention that it is in line with any professional studio headphones. In combination with a much lower price than many other studio headphones (they go for under 200 USD at most stores) it is no wonder that the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x is so popular. Beyond sound quality, Consumer Reports advises that consumers should choose highly comfortable headphones to be pleased in the long run. The Audio-Technica ATH-m50x are well padded and are reported to be very comfortable to use for hours. The headphones are also said to be “as flexible as a yoga teacher”, making them easy to store and travel with.

If we look at the second highest rated headphones on Amazon, we find that it is a pair of Bluetooth headphones for kids, namely the LilGadgets Untangled Pro. While the LilGadgets Untangled Pro may be amazing for kids, many adults would not agree that such headphones are one of the best ones. In the end, it all comes down to “who the user is and what he or she will use the headphones for” according to Consumer Reports. For example, the Zipbuds JUICED 2.0 have been ranked the best headphones for girls to use, but then again, others who are fond of soft muted colors or prefer other features such as Bluetooth, including other girls, would not agree. The same thing is true when it comes to headphones for other groups, such as truck drivers or pilots. Also, one person may prefer different headphones for different occasions, for example one pair when they go running and another pair at home. Beyond that, the budget of the user plays a huge part in the choosing the right pair.

“Nobody said it was going to be easy” as Coldplay’s Chris Marin sings. It is true for naming the best headphones. While a pair of headphones can be rated highly by one expert, it might not fit the needs or budget of a user. Either way, most users and expert still seem to agree that the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x are amazing headphones, but it is not the best pair for everyone and for all occasions.

When and When Not to Build a Responsive Website

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When redoing your website’s design it’s important to take into consideration many different aspects. For one, the project could become quite big in a hurry. Before even beginning any design it’s important to layout the scope of work that will be performed and then stick within those parameters. If there is a large amount of work to be done, it’s usually a good idea to break the large project up into different phases. For this post though we’re going to focus on just one of the aspects that should not be overlooked – making sure the website is responsive.

Why Build a Responsive Website

A responsive website simply means that the xHTML and the CSS markup was done in such a way that the website “responds” appropriately to different sized monitors. This is becoming more and more popular than separate mobile websites for many reasons. One of the biggest ones is simply because you’re only dealing with one website instead of separate websites for mobile and desktop.

While this may seem like a lot of work to implement, it really isn’t that bad as long as you hire a web developer who knows how to do so. In fact, just about all kinds of websites are implementing these techniques. You’ve got every kind of website ranging from workout websites like Dr. Jade Teta’s Metabolic Aftershock all the way to ecommerce websites like Tattly. What is important to note though, is that not only are their home pages designed to be responsive, but the sub-pages shrink down as well. This makes for a uniform and consistent feel across the entire website on any type of device – whether a smart phone, a tablet like an iPhone or even a laptop.

When NOT to go Responsive

What is interesting is that some big corporate websites (like Apple) are not responsive though. While yes, this article is all about recommending making your website responsive, if you have team and a buget like Apple then it actually does make sense to build separate websites…. even though I’m not sure that they have even done that to the extent that I’m referring, their website still does look good on all devices.

In addition to having the budget and team, there are other times when going responsive is not the best option. Mainly, this is when you have so much diverse information that you simply cannot allow any of it to be hidden on small screens. When you are facing this type of project, just rember that you have to design the site so that users can at least get around and work your website.

Definitely don’t use outdated technologies like Adobe Flash and others… those are being weeded out and most developers won’t even touch a project if it’s going to involve a lot of Flash work to be done.

In this day and age, simple is ruling the design space. Keep this in mind, and more often than not, if you design a clean and simple website that is responsive you will be ahead of the curve and your customers will appreciate the experience.