Table Less Design is not the future it’s the past keep up!Posted on
Estimated reading time: 3 minutes, 19 seconds
In the world of web design, things have changed drastically since the early days of the internet when the online world was the exclusive property of coders and geeks alike. In those days, the aesthetic and graphical qualities of a website were a distant second in the hearts and minds of web users to the pure content of a page. However, the internet is now a global sales and marketing channel and a driver of commerce and communications that has been forced to evolve to accommodate the differing tastes of the general public.
Techniques and Technologies
As a result the technologies with which web pages are built have had to keep up. In the 1990s and early years of the new century, pure HTML and a tabled website design were the mainstays of site construction. However, the world doesn’t stop moving and the HTML table approach has seen stiff competition from other techniques and technologies that offer improved performance, higher quality visuals and shorter page loading times. Today, the site which has a table less design is, all other things being equal, considered superior to a site which relies on HTML tables. But what are the benefits of switching to a site which uses table less design over more traditional methods, and why should you make the jump sooner rather than later?
The Wonders of CSS
Essentially Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) have long been available but have evolved significantly in recent times, most notably since 2006. However, it is proving hard to persuade some people that this is now the way to go as CSS used to be regarded as difficult to use and to maintain. Thankfully this is no longer the case, and CSS now provides the wise developer with a hugely powerful means by which to remove the clutter of HTML markup from a page and manage a vast range of attributes in one or more separate style sheets. Whereas with pure HTML, many attributes have to be explicitly and repeatedly asserted throughout a particular page, CSS affords the designer not only far more freedom of expression but also accuracy and ease of use. For use, read also re-use and the ability to make and propagate site-wide changes in one place.
In its most optimised form, a modern CSS-driven design may require only a few lines of HTML on a given page, the vast majority of the page being defined by reusable CSS elements. Cutting down on HTML also has a resultant improvement on page loading speeds, as there is far less code for a web browser to download. This translates into shorter page load times and a higher capability to throughput traffic at a lower cost in the context of your bandwidth usage. From a pure business perspective, this reduces costs and improves sales and conversion rates.
SEO and Other Benefits of Table Less Design
Depending on the browser used, tables may cause rendering errors and can compromise the accessibility of a site, particularly if extensive use has been made of graphical elements. CSS, in contrast, provides for far more flexibility when it comes to the positioning of elements and indeed the sequence in which they load. As an example, a well constructed CSS-driven design can ensure that the main content loads first with graphics elements loading thereafter: user and search engine heaven!
Perhaps even more significantly, because the use of a CSS-driven table less design improves load speed and sequence, the search engines can index the site more rapidly and more accurately, with indexing weighted towards the critical content. This represents a vital contribution to your SEO efforts. In a world in which a 2% improvement can make the difference between page one and page two of the search engine results, the return on investment in this context alone can justify the entire project many times over.
With tables believed to be still in use in some 95% of websites today, those adopting a table less design should be well positioned for competitive advantage.