Forget glitzy gimmicks and pretty pictures. Long on practicality and interactivity, the sites that won this year's Web Awards create relationships for life

"Keep 'em coming back for more." That could have been the motto of the winners of this, our second annual awards program honoring the smartest growing businesses on the Web. The 13 winners -- who come from all over the country and range from two houseboat builders to a pasta company to a research firm -- all use their Web sites to invite participation and engender loyalty from customers, employees, and suppliers. That relationship-building strategy was the common element among the honorees, regardless of which category they excelled in or how much they spent in developing their sites.

The winners came from a pool of some 400 applicants, who sent in their entries between March and June. The applicants were brick-and-mortar companies that had $50 million or less in annual revenues; pure dot-coms were not allowed to enter. The companies applied in one or more of five categories: Marketing, Customer Service, Return on Investment, Innovation, and Community. (The latter category is for sites that have dramatically improved communications or processes for the companies' employees or suppliers.) A panel of 14 outside judges chose the winners that you'll see featured in the stories listed below. From this stellar list we hope you'll glean some tactics that you can use to keep your visitors coming back for more.

Annual Web Awards 2000