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10 great Web sites

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The more great Web sites change, the more they stay the same. Companies may be designating a bigger chunk of the budget to their online presence, and they may be relying on more sophisticated technology, but the basics of connecting with customers online are no different than they were a few years back.

Today's great Web sites present detailed product and company information in an easy-to-navigate format. They have an uncluttered design that embodies the corporate brand, ditching the bells and whistles unless the bells and whistles improve the customer experience. They engage users in a two-way conversation rather than a one-sided sales pitch. In short, they make customers' lives easier.

In the following pages, we feature 10 Web sites that masterfully accomplish these tasks. We also check in with one of the sites in last year's section on great sites-Nextel.com-to highlight some of the company's recent online updates. We've asked some leading Web site usability and online marketing experts to comment on the sites we've chosen to feature.

3com.com

Americanexpress.com

Avaya.com

Boschtools.com

ibm.com

McAfee.com

Staples.com

Swagelok.com

Tapeinfo.com

Unisys.com

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