The Internet is an awesome and powerful resource--but only if you know where to look. And that isn't always easy, considering the pace at which websites sprout and grow. This collection of some of the most useful sites on the Web should help you make sense of the vast assortment of sites at your fingertips.
We narrowed the list to sites that are new or little-known. For example, although eBay and Skype are both extremely useful, you probably don’t need us to tell you that. To read about our picks, click the nine links in this story or in the box to the right; each article covers a category of sites that will make your life easier.
In three of the articles in this package, we suggest five new or growing websites that can help you achieve a goal. For instance, tracking your health online is becoming much easier with the advent of sites such as Earndit, which gives members awards for completing exercise challenges, or Simplee, which breaks down your medical bills and the terms of your health insurance into easy-to-understand graphics. We also chose five sites that you can use to raise money for your great ideas, like RaiseCapital, which helps entrepreneurs find funding from large and small investors alike. Finally, you'll also find five sites that will help you plan your travel--and maybe even save some money while you're at it--such as Airfarewatchdog, a site that uses a staff of airfare specialists to bring you the lowest prices for plane tickets on the Web.
We also asked three people who are experts in their fields to tell us about the incredibly useful sites they rely on. Rebecca Reeve, the founder and CEO of a PR agency, recommended five sites that keep her organized and efficient, and ready for her next meeting. We also asked freelance photographer and Corbis editor Jeff Enlow where he goes to buy camera gear and get ideas for shoots. And Nicholas Dekker, a book author and breakfast blogger from Columbus, Ohio (yes, he just blogs about breakfast, though his personal site reveals that he moonlights as a brunch blogger as well), gave us a few foodie-site recommendations.
Finally, we compared the features of some new and useful sites that offer similar services. Manilla and Pageonce both offer bill-pay and bill-storage services, but they have a few small differences. Since you'll probably want to use just one bill-payment service, you can read our comparison and decide which one is better for your needs. Other services we compare are music-streaming services Rdio and Turntable, and academic video sites Khan Academy and Open Yale Courses.
These nine articles will help you discover some great, useful websites. And if you have your own suggestions, sound off in the comments below!