NMMA, Boats.com select Web award winners

SEATTLE, Wash. — The 2009 North American Marine Industry Web Award winners have been chosen by Boats.com and the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA), the two organizations reported in a statement today.

“A good Web site is essential to today’s businesses and is a reflection of one’s brand or company identity," said Carl Blackwell, NMMA VP of marketing and communications, said. "We believe this competition helps raise the bar for our industry and will encourage more companies to embrace the importance of their Web sites and the Internet in today’s business climate."

The award for the Best OEM/Manufacturer Site went to sea-doo.com, which judges said effectively used technology and clean design to draw attention while not overwhelming a less experienced site visitor with too much information.

Best Dealer/Broker Site was awarded to marinemax.com, a site that stood out for its organized, clean and easy to navigate design, according to judges.

The Best Marine Equipment Site was transhield-usa.com. Judges said it was most noteworthy for its depth of content, which made it a useful tool for understanding the product.

"Best Marine Site – Editorial Content," a new award this year, went to windcheckmagazine.com. Judges said WindCheck Magazine did a great job getting out of the way and letting the content speak for itself.

No award was presented in the other new category, "Best Marine Site – Discover Boating."

Judges for the contest included Jorian Clarke, founder and CEO of Milwaukee-based interactive marketing agency SpectraCom; Adam Heneghan, president of Chicago-based digital agency Elevation; Larry Rains, marketing manager for Boats.com and YachtWorld.com; and Armida Markarova, director of Interactive Marketing for NMMA and Grow Boating Inc. Nominations for the competition were accepted from Dec. 8 through Jan. 15.

The panel had the following general comments for the industry based on submitted sites:

“Many of the participants were still in the early ‘digital brochure stage’ and/or used excessive amounts of video as a substitute for good design and user-friendly navigation. Trademarks were also often outdated, leaving the site visitor to wonder if the content as well was outdated. User participation techniques — often called user generated content, used so effectively in other industry categories — were also missing from a majority of sites. The best Dealer/Broker Site was tough to judge because so many of the entrants were using the same templated format, which meant there was little to differentiate one site from another.”

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