by Tim Warren
Tables used to be the “in” thing when it came to designing web sites. As with many other things though, new techniques and methods standards are bound to emerge with time. When once tables were seen in most web pages, some experts now suggest that tables should be thrown out of the window.
In simple words, tableless web design is basically a method whereby page layout control is achieved without the use of HTML tables. Instead, text and other elements on a page are arranged using CSS (Cascading Style Sheets). This language is the brainchild of the W3C (World Wide Web Consortium). It was designed in such a way as to improve web accessibility as well as to make use of HTML for semantic purposes rather than presentational purposes.
One thing that has been making the headlines in the past year or so is the term SEO (Search Engine Optimization) techniques. With search engines such as Google and Yahoo making big waves in the information sector, web designers are scrambling to get on their good side. The one main goal of a web designer is to get his site on the top pages for search results. How is this achieved? By making one’s site search engine friendly.
Search engines make use of various techniques to index all existing web sites. Based on these various techniques, they assign a page rank to the web site. The higher the page rank, the more chances it will be high up in the search engine results. The higher up the site is in ranking, the more chances that people will visit the site. That means good news for the web site. That is where semantics and HTML come in.
So how about tables? Web designers who favor tables assert that they make the design process easier and less time consuming. More so, they assert that tables are more compatible with various web browsers. On the other hand, proponents of tableless formats assert that tables do not adhere to web standards and web accessibility.
Over the years, people have been trying to come up with web standards that are based on logic and that would make it easier for everyone involved to access web sites. Text readers, bots, mobile devices, and other elements were all taken into consideration. As such, the tableless format has come into popular use.
Why should you follow this standard? Here are a few reasons as to why you should go tableless:
• The current W3C standards dictate the use of tableless design. • Practically all browsers in use today support CSS for controlling layouts. As such, your site will be compatible with most any browser. • It is easier to make global changes to the layout with the use of CSS. That is, if the coding is properly done, of course. • Web site accessibility for people with special needs is done more easily with the proper implementation of content into XHTML documents. In this case, CSS is used only for the layout and style. • Unnecessary code is eliminated with the use of XHTML and CSS, making for a sleeker and more manageable code. • Tableless formats make it easier for search engines to index a web site.
Though tableless formats are being widely used for page layout control, it does not necessarily mean that tables are not being used anymore. They are merely not optimal for presentation purposes.