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TARI AKPODIETE has been described as the "Web's evangelist". She got started in the online world through AOL but quickly graduated to Mosaic and Netscape. Although not a designer, she was captivated by the possibilities that the Web offered. To help both other people, and herself navigate the labyrinth of Web design resources, she created the HTML Publishing Resource Guide, a text-only publication available by e-mail request. In a six-week period she received more than 18,000 requests for a copy. A year later, she renamed it the Web Publishing Resource Guide and put it online. Now called Building the Web (http://www.buildingtheweb.com), her site is one of the best lists of resources for anyone from the newbie to the experienced veteran.

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).

E-mail comments or queries to jason@ webbedenvironments.com

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