In the age of online marketing a business website is a make or break feature. Done well it can capture your intended audience’s attention and draw them into a relationship with your brand. Done badly it can turn off a potential customer in record time. And with platforms like Drupal and WordPress making web design and development accessible to the masses there really isn’t any excuse for doing it badly.

This month we’ve scoured the Approved Index directory to find the very best examples of B2B websites. All of our 400+ active suppliers were in contention and over the next few weeks we’ll be presenting the very finest examples of online customer interaction from the following sectors:

  • Office Equipment
  • Business Services
  • Automotive
  • Training
  • Construction Equipment

and finally, the incredibly competitive categories of

  • Marketing
  • Internet Services

Approved Index suppliers are, in general, a pretty web savvy bunch so the standards have been high and most categories have presented a very hard decision.

The translation: you shouldn’t be downhearted if you’re an Approved Index supplier and didn’t get an award. To double the amount of website love we can dish out though we’ll also highlight an honourable mention in each category.

The Judging Criteria

We’ll give full reasons for each of our decisions in the award announcement post but in the interests of transparency here’s what we were looking for in our search for the best supplier websites of 2012.

At Approved Index we’re all too familiar with the nexus that exists between buyer and seller and what can go wrong in that oh so delicate zone both at initial contact and in subsequent steps of the buying process. The website should present as few hurdles to the potential customer as possible while providing all the support and information they need to get them through the conversion process.

Design – A good customer facing website should make the presentation of information a priority. The layout should be clear and provide your users with everything they need while still being easy on the eye.

Navigation – Users should be able to work out easily how to get to the information they need and be able ot navigate there quickly.

Contact Options – The more ways you give your customers to connect with you the better – some people are more comfortable ringing in while others like to email. An online form can be the perfect solution in many an instance but leave users feeling cut off in others.

Content – Whether in the form of text, audio, video or pictures, content is king. No matter what your business does the visitors to your website can be described as looking for one thing and one thing only – information. A great business website provides as much information to its users as possible and always makes sure that the content is engaging, relevant and satisfies visitors’ neds.

Pizazz – The least important factor to us but one which can make the difference between a really good website and a great one. If you can not only provide your visitors with a great looking, content paked, easy to use website with tons of options for following up but also do it with style and personality then you are truly a master of the B2B web.

The Announcements

Will begin tomorrow, so keep an eye out.

First up… Office Equipment.

This is exciting!