In last year’s post on TIME’s 50 Best Websites: 8 Ideas You Can Steal, I highlighted the trend towards user-generated content. Along with Turntable.fm, Polyvore, Proust and Gogobot, here are some more user-led sites with great ideas.
Here’s what I like about the site:
- They use clear icons to identify the crime incidents.
- It’s immediately obvious how you can report a crime.
- They have an iPhone application – every site like this should be mobile-friendly.
- They’ve made their service free to any police department.
Of course, I’m assuming the last point will prove to be mutually beneficial, but removing barriers is core to a site like this.
Idea to Steal: Take down walls. The easier it is for users to contribute, the better your content.
Speaking of sharing, have a gander at The Acoustic Music Archive.
Though not as fancy-pants as other user-generated music sites, it has some excellent features:
- It gives you tools, such as chords and lyrics, to create your own masterpieces.
- It educates with helpful background information and demonstrations.
- Like Wikipedia, it is based on user enthusiasm and expertise.
- It has elegant sharing options.
I particularly like this last feature. For example, when you click on the “Share” button next to the title, you see:
Not only can you share socially, you can also embed the music on your own website, prompting more interest in the original site.
Idea to Steal: Share the expertise. Offer free tools to help users build a knowledge community.
If you don’t read Arabic (which, alas, I don’t), this article on Wamda will give you the lowdown on why Shahiya is proving successful in a competitive user-generated space.
For starters, the founders:
- Combine online promotion with offsite, in-person marketing.
- Are careful to monitor the quality of their content carefully.
- Use extensive testing to see what site features, tools and apps would be most effective.
Idea to Steal: Test and monitor your site often. Your users will let you know what they want if you ask them.
THINKING ABOUT A USER-GENERATED SITE?
Need some help with ideas and best practices? Contact me at any time for a free consultation.