30 Favorite Undiscovered Websites of 2011

Whether you try the free personal account or sign up your whole office of users (at $15 per user per month), Box is a powerful place to get control of your documents, media, and anything that goes online. You can share it, sync files, access it from the phone, do work with others online, and integrate it with other software like Google Apps and Salesforce.Eric Griffith

Acquired by Google in March 2010, this photo editing site makes altering pictures fast, fun, and easy. Users can import photos natively from Picasa, Flickr, Facebook, Photobucket and more, or upload from a computer. After polishing a picture, users can buy the print plastered on merchandise. It’s free for the casual customer, but power users will find the features of Picnik Premium worth the annual $24.95 price tag.—MP
Read PCMag’s Picnik review.

We all know that SEO (search engine optimization) drives Web traffic. Without SEO, even the best sites get left far, far behind. How do you perfect your practices? A tool like SpiderMate makes all the difference. It’ll analyze your site and pages, auditing them against search engine results, looking at keywords, listing the number of links the site gets, and more, all to help figure out where you’re going wrong (or right) when it comes to building an audience of Web searchers.—EG

The Verge 
Are you wondering where all the original editors of Engadget went after they left? (We assume you missed the announcement on Jimmy Fallon’s show.) The Verge is their home. With the usual coverage of gadgets, the site also includes big features, podcasts, and the recently launched “On The Verge” video show.—EG

Get your fill of fun and interesting remixed images posted from users all over the Internet without the worry of whether it’s safe-for-work. Canvas is a curated home of Internet meme messages, videos, and pictures even your mother could love. And even better, Canvas provides the tools to help you make some of your own.—EG

Why just slap up photos when Erly helps you and friends create collections of your shared memories? Everyone’s content is pulled together in one album full of images, videos, status updates and notes. You send the URL for the collection out and others can contribute. This could be the event scrapbook and the meeting minutes of the future.—EG

It’s not exactly the one-of-a-kind-item shopping you get at Etsy, but Broodr comes close, especially withgifts for the tech-minded. It’s a “creative marketplace” for anyone to sell and promote their ideas and inventions in the form of un-heard-of products. It may not be full of bargains, but every item looks like a digital dream come true.—Eric Griffith

The big intro page says it all: “Instant Websites For Non-Profits, No Learning Required.” If you run a non-profit organization and need a presence online—which you do, considering $15 billion is donated to non-profits online every year, and that number is growing—this is the place to stop and setup. Bellstrike takes a small cut (never more than $80 per month) to cover fees but helps you with all the rest of your online fundraising, blogging, and branding.—Eric Griffith

After two years on the scene, Kickstarter took the world by storm in 2011 by facilitating “crowdfunding” to launch creative projects such as software, albums, comics, even entire film shoots. As of August this year, the site has raised $75 million dollars for over 10,000 projects. Forty-four percent of projects get the full funding they desire. Invest in your favorite.—EG

Lots of online shopping destinations, from big names like Amazon on down, use coupon codes. (You see the box when you are checking out.) Before you go shopping online, visit RetailMeNot first and enter the name of your favorite store. It gathers all the coupon codes that would otherwise be hidden, saving you big bucks. Not all the codes work forever, but keep trying until you find one that does.—EG

Most sites like to give you extras for spending more with them. SaveUp promises to give you rewards for saving your dough. If you have accounts with any of the 18,000 banks on SaveUp’s list, you can earn points for each deposit you make to a savings or retirement account, or even when you pay toward a loan. The points, of course, can later be spent on prizes.—EG

We all love quick ways to read. That has lead to latest wacky craze called the “listicle”—an article that’s actually a list. Listverse is our favorite of the many sites devoted to these stories, covering all categories with top 10s of exquisite detail and research.—EG

This site for recording studio Horseshack hosts seven up-and-coming bands a week, recording on average four songs per band, which are then available for free download. Most of the bands can be lumped into the “indie” genre, but the selection is very eclectic. Past performances are archived, and each session is joined by an illustration done by an on-staff illustrator. There’s also a section of reviews and commentaries, some written by renowned music critics. Some of the better-known names who’ve recorded Daytrotter sessions include The Hold Steady, The National, Vampire Weekend, Wire, MGMT, and Iron & Wine.—Jenny Bergen

If This Then That 
Put the internet to work for you! The structure is simple: “if this, then that.” Meaning, “if this certain thing happens, then make this other thing happen.” It could be as simple as saying, “If I’m tagged on Facebook, then send me an SMS message.” It can tie into social networks, email, phone, weather reports, to-do lists, instant messages, Internet radio, RSS feeds, and so much more that the possibilities of what you can create are almost endless. Check the “recipes” for examples from others. —EG

Imgur (pronounced “image-er”) is all about simple image sharing. Upload pictures that are less than 10MB in size, even animated GIF or PNG images (limited to 2MB), and they are anonymously and randomly shared with visitors to the site. Of course, the popular images that get shared outside of Imgur get filtered to prominent positions in the gallery.—EG

You may not remember 12seconds, but it let you make short videos and post them to social networks, until it died. Well, Tout is just like that, but better—you can use it to make 15-second videos! Do it from your PC or phone, post the vids to Tout, Facebook, Twitter, email, and YouTube.—EG

The folks at LogMeIn offer a great service for sharing among computers. Join.me is just the latest amazing innovation that lets you instantly share what’s on your screen with up to 250 viewers on computers, smartphones, and even iPads. It can even share control of the screen if you allow it. It’s a perfect way to hold document meetings or give presentations with little hassle.—EG

Awkward Family Photos
Back this year because you can never see enough family awkwardness. This site takes the best atrocious imagery, usually of the “posed family gathering”-type, and collects it for all of us to be horrified-into-hilarity. Whether shirtless, dressed for the renaissance fair, packing heat while in a bridal gown, or what have you, there’s a picture here to make everyone cringe.—Eric Griffith

The editors of BoingBoing know what’s cool and geeky, and usually find whatever combines the two. Whether curating the most amazing things on the Web or doing some serious journalism (it’s practically the designated online home of the Occupy movement’s tribulations), BoingBoing is always worth a visit.—EG

Letters of Note
If you still believe in taking the time to write a real letter to people who matter and take great pleasure in receiving one in kind, Letters of Note will hold a powerful appeal. The site scans and posts missives from celebrities, which range from the mundane to the outright hilarious. (A personal favorite is the item titled “I’d like to retain ‘fart in your general direction.'” Each scanned missive comes with a transcript, in case the handwriting is hard to read. It’s a wonderful reminder of the power of the written word.—LAR

The annual Technology Entertainment and Design (TED) conferences are amazing gatherings featuring speakers with inspiring tales and incredible knowledge. Lucky for us, all of those talks are 18 minutes or less and captured on video for anyone to see later. There are well over 1,050 available to watch right now, so get started.—EG

Expedia’s TripAdvisor was a social network for travel before that was a thing, using user-reviews to create a master database of the best places to stay around the world. It offers up info on hotels, restaurants, vacation rents, and even flights and things to do, and its Best Of lists are not to be missed if you’re a frequent flyer to exotic locales.—EG

Need to get away? Airbnb connects travelers in search of vacation rentals and short-term accommodations with those that have space to spare—or rather, rent. Featuring housing options in more than 19,000 cities and 192 counties, users can find the right room at nearly any price, whether it’s a fold-out couch in Queens or a château in the quaint French countryside.—MP

Got a room you want to rent occasionally? Want to rent a room when visiting a new place but hate hotels? CrashMyPad wants to provide the solution to both problems, letting you list your pad for crashing, and find pads to crash at. All descriptions require pictures, so there are no surprises, and the listings range from little studio apartments to cabins by the lake.—EG

Ars Technica
The long-running Ars Technica stays on this list year after year because, while it’s insider-y and more even more techie than some sites, its how-to guides, commentary, and in-depth reports can’t be beat.—Eric Griffith

Want free software to download? FileHippo.com’s collection, clearly laid out on its home page, is the best of the best. It makes sure to keep things so up-to-date that it’s likely to have updates before you know about them. The Update Checker app it provides Windows users will help you find out what software you have that needs a new version.—EG

Gdgt promises its reviews are from “people who actually have your product.” Sad that anyone has to make that claim (for the record, PCMag Labs would say the same!), but here the goal is for you to say what you own or want and then get sent the reviews. Users chime in so you can see who has it, who wants it, and who had it, and then read all of the individual capsule reviews by users, so you get that social aspect. You can ask questions and get answers from the community, or join the general discussions to air your complaints.—EG

If you’re constantly looking for better, more efficient ways to get stuff done, Life Hacker can be entertaining and informative. It offers both the practical (like using plastic wrap to protect your furniture when painting in close quarters) to the “dang, that’s cool” (like turning your old keyboard keys into fridge magnets). With both analog and digital tips, this site will hold appear for even the biggest Luddite.—Laarni Almendrala Ragaza

Wondering what’s new and cutting-edge in social networking and digital culture in general? It doesn’t matter if it’s the tech, the business, or even the entertainment aspects, Mashable has it covered. Sign up for Mashable Follow to get a custom experience, where you only read what you actually care about.—EG

If you want to know the latest news about technology—and we mean the latest—visit or subscribe to Techmeme. Its algorithm for finding the current trends is second to none, as it scrapes and aggregates the news from across the Web to display what’s most important right now in the digital world.—EG


About bryantanner

I'm obsessed with learning via the appropriate technology. My professional mission is to effectively deliver instruction to learners in a way that yields the greatest results for all stakeholders involved.
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