Jason Cranford Teague: How did you get the title "Web evangelist"?
Tari Akpodiete: I started out with the germ of an idea: that I wanted to do something different. I'd worked in film, television and video production, but I was doing unrelated, stressful and boring work when I got into the Web.
After a while, I started going places and talking about the Web. I would get very animated, and excited. People would say to me that it was as if I'd "got religion or something". And it really was. I was spreading the Web gospel. I was an evangelist. I put it on my business cards, and it is really a great ice-breaker and conversation starter.
JCT: I hear this all the time: "What do I need a website for?" What can an individual hope to get out of having their own website?
TA: I get this question a lot as well, and I'm still not 100 per cent sure of the answer. I ask people, "Why do you actually want it?"
Let me give you an example. I could have made a quick five grand the other day, doing a really easy site, but the guy really didn't need one. He is a registered massage therapist (RMT) here in Canada, and he wanted a site to attract local business. Instead, I suggested that he consider getting a single promotional page on Toronto.com.
JCT: What are the challenges that Web newbies faces when trying to design their first site?
TA: The same sort of problems as people doing their first desktop-published flier or brochure - not enough knowledge and too many choices.
I found myself in the same position, originally, and still do sometimes. I'm not really a designer myself, more of a developer, really. I can do a bit of everything now - design, scripting, programming, etc. I would say that I am creative, rather than artistic. To combat this, I read magazines and lots of books, most often ones from Peachpit and O'Reilly.
I also spend a lot of time studying other sites, dissecting them for their look, their feel, their design, their way of putting colours together. I examine how these other sites have gone about making their navigation and user interface. I ask myself "does this work?"
I also write to other Web designers and ask questions. Most of them have been very accommodating. Now I sometimes find myself in the position of writing back to people who ask me questions.
JCT: Your site is a great place for finding resources. What are the resources on the Web that you use most frequently?
TA: Every Friday, like clockwork, I'm at Web Review (http://www. webreview.com). I've been going there for years, and I am never disappointed. I also spend a lot of time at Web Monkey (http://www. webmonkey.com) and CNET Builder (http://www. builder.com). Web Design Clinic (http://www. webdesignclinic.com) is an up-and-coming resource site that I am starting to visit a lot.
One of my perennial faves is Glassdog.com (http://www.glassdog.com). I find it very inspiring. That site really made me realise a lot of things, like the fact that Web design is limited only by your imagination. It was made by Lance Arthur, who also did the amazing Soulflare (http://www. soulflare.com). And I'm still learning new things at the must-see Web Page Design for Designers (http://www. wpdfd.com). I've also found your site, Webbed Environments (http://www.webbedenvironments.com), to be incredibly educational. I especially like the idea of being able to refer to your "bank" of articles.
JCT: Thanks! Staying on top of the latest Web developments seems like a full-time job these days. How do you do it?
TA: A lot of people say, "Oh, Tari, you're so well-informed. How do you find out all this stuff?" Well, I have a little secret: I sign up for e-mail lists. Most sites ask you if you want to join their lists, and I often do. That way, I don't have to remember to go back anywhere to find out what's new. I also get 100 Web/Net headlines in my e-mail everyday from News Linx (http://www. newslinx.com). If I see something of interest, I click and go and read the full story on whatever service - Wired News, News Bytes, Internet News that News Linx has gleaned headlines from.
Another important source of information is Savage Steve Champeon's WebDesignL mailing list (http://www.hesketh.com/ lists/). I've started my own daily Web development discussion list as well, and have just topped 100 members (http://www. onelist.com/subscribe/ BuildingTheWeb).
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