User-Generated Content Sites: 3 More Ideas to Steal

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, Polyvore, Proust and Gogobot, here are some more user-led sites with great ideas.



After finding PadMapper, I had the brilliant idea that the same tool could be used to highlight crime incidents. Of course, SpotCrime developers are way ahead of me.

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. 


Acoustic Music Archive

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:

Acoustic Music Archive Share

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.


Need some help with ideas and best practices? Contact me at any time for a free consultation.

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