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I want some second opinions. Do you feel you should use CSS to design tables and various other design aspects of your site? Or do you think HTML will cut it?
I have a pretty big site which can be found in my profile. It does use a lot of tables and I'm wondering if I should move those tables into CSS to generate less code.
CSS is also great because you choose what spider food should be eaten first. Instead of a bunch if navigational links, you can use CSS to have your content fed first and links last - this can't be done with tables, unless you design your site to have your navigational links on the right side of the page.
As far as code goes, a site designed in CSS will generate less code and in essence load quicker. But you need to know your visitor and target market because there can be browser issues with CSS. Hope this helps.
A big thing about CSS is that it seperates the presentation from the meaty content, which is what search engines look through. If they don't have to look through tons of font and table tags, they index your site better.
CSS allows you to use HTML to correctly display the content through proper use of h1, h2, p, etc. This helps out spider bots even more by identifying the content. CSS allows you to properly use these tags because your not using these tags incorrectly by relying on them to make the presentation of the site (because CSS does that).
Sorry if that's a bit confusing!
We build most of our new sites in CSS for the reasons noted above.
However, our old HTML/tables sites still flourish and I see little reason to change them until definitive signs start appearing regularly that the time has come. There are a lot of HTML/tables sites out there of high quality. The SE's cannot really afford to stop crawling them effectively, if the SE's want to maintain quality, which of course they do. At some point however, I assume the time will come to remake all those older sites.
Our current stance: Any older HTML site that's doing fine stays as is, except that we vary our approach as to whether newer pages on those sites use CSS or not. Most new sites use CSS. But, not all do.
BTW, WebmasterWorld.com ranks pretty well. ;-)
Usually I end up using a single table to create columns/sidebars, because you can set the widths as percentages or ems (dependent on font size) and the browser will scale it appropriately. I do all the other presentation with CSS.
One useful tip if you use a table for layout: if you've got a navigation column or something on the left, then (as pointed out earlier) it will be seen by search engines (and some browsers) above the page's unique content. You can adjust the table slightly so that the content comes first, using the 'table trick':
[edited by: caveman at 4:47 pm (utc) on Nov. 15, 2005]
[edit reason] Removed specific URL reference, per TOS [/edit]
So I'm thinking there's line you cross with CSS where a lot people are just not going to get a return on their labor. Besides, if you look at some of the most well-known sites on the Web, what do you see? Tables.
I'm not giving up entirely. I'll just need to learn more about CSS to make it worth my time.
1 easier to create compliant code once you have it right
2 as others have said you can put the stuff you want se's to view as most important at the top of the page not after code for adds menu's etc.
3 pages load quicker and are smaller ( significantly )
4 easier to change something site wide
Now to the problems
1 this was suprising to me due to not expecting to have an issue you will need to relook at your keyword density and possibly have to reevaluate how to tune the page
2 Some SE's appeared to like a page that had a larger file size to believe page has more data no proof on this but gut feel
3 the lack of tables can make small changes harder than just slapping in a new table or column with tables
I believe I have lost a small amount of traffic due to changes but believe that it is just a question of getting the seo tuned again and it's very much easier to fall into an OOP trap with css
PS I did find I could have created an almost identical site using css but used the oportunity for minor presentation design changes at the same time
just my 2 cents