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The value of semantically correct XHTML, without using tables

Ok, so I am going to use my revamping of the dating site as another topic for this post. As I identified in the previous post, we have inherited the code from a previous developer and are making improvements to the site.

The previous site was almost completely table based – yuck!! Dan Cederholm has a chapter in his book Web Standards Solutions, which is titled “Tables are evil?”. Now of course tables should be used when one is displaying tabular data, but in this case there is no tabular data on the site, maybe just some on the administrators CMS.

The “old” way of using tables for layouts is just so blotted and messy. Having tables within rows and doing styling within the code and not in the CSS, makes the site soooo difficult to manage and I am already seeing the benefits which the W3C have brought to website development.

So, some of the immediate benefits of not using tables, which I have been reminded of are the following:

  • Much less code – which means smaller files – which in turn means less space on your web server
  • Less code means less bandwidth and if you have a site with thousands of hits a day, this will have a huge impact on overall performance.
  • The ability to access the site with portable devices-mobile phones, PDAs etc.
  • It’s much easier to update layouts and styling via the CSS

I know that there are still loads of sites out there that are table based and which work perfectly. So I am not saying that it’s completely wrong to use them. It’s just that it’s so much easier not to use tables and there are lots of additional benefits which have become apparent in recent years.

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  1. It amazes me that so many sites still use table structures. When will these old school sites see the light and start using CSS correctly.

    On another point it looks like Dan Cendeholm is actually coming to london. I was reading in his company’s blog SimpleBits that he is speaking at one of the Carson Workshops. Unfortunately the conference is in Boston and not in London 🙁 Oh well maybe it is time for a trip out that way.

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