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And the Winner Is...

IBM, FedEx, Merrill Lynch and General Electric are among companies offering the best Web sites in their industries, according to a report in the current issue of BtoB, a publication devoted exclusively to the growing business-to-business e-commerce marketplace.

The BtoB report, an annual independent ranking of B2B Web sites called NetMarketing 200, covers 15 industry categories. Companies are judged on seven design criteria.

IBM leads the field overall with the only perfect score in the list of about 700 sites considered, BtoB said. Following closely behind are the leaders in each industry category. "Ease of use," "good navigation," "e-commerce enabled" and "great organization" are phrases that appear repeatedly in comments about the market sector leaders, according to BtoB. Their sites "are clean, well-organized and focused primarily on delivering information to a customer, requiring the fewest number of keystrokes or clicks."

The 15 industry categories and their winners are:

Because the goal was primarily to gauge B2B marketing over the Web, sites for hotels, airlines, marketing and ad agencies, online marketplaces and portals and e-commerce consultants were not included. These kinds of exchanges will be reviewed at a future date, according to the publication.

The seven design criteria used by an independent judging organization were: ease of navigation, presentation of information, quality of content, interactive resources such as search function, e-commerce capabilities, extras such as online community and "unique" features.

BtoB is published by Crain Communications Inc.