The Tableless Web Designs

Tableless web design can be defined as a kind of design philosophy wherein designers deliberately avoid or stay away from using HTML tables for page layout control purposes. Instead of using HTML tables, the style sheet languages like the Cascading Style Sheets, CSS are used to position elements and text on the web pages.

The popular tableless web design is also referred to as tableless web layout. The concept of Cascading Style Sheets came into use in the year 1996 by the World Wide Web Consortium, W3C with the aim of improving the web accessibility and to make HTML code semantic rather than presentational. Because, during this times, the dot-com boom resulted in unprecedented growth in the new media of web page creation and design, there started a trend of using HTML tables, and their rows, columns and cells, to control the layout of whole web pages. There were various reasons behind this and thus the delay in tableless web design. For example:

• The new web designers were unfamiliar with CSS;

• Major browsers and that time were not CSS supported

• Another major factor was the lack of knowledge and concern regarding the for the reasons that included HTML semantics and web accessibility to make use of CSS instead of what was perceived as an easier way to quickly achieve the intended layouts.

• A new breed of What You See Is What You Get, WYSIWYG kinds of web design tools that further encouraged this practice.

In more recent times, there has been better understanding among the web designers and other professionals’ on tableless web design benefits and restrictions in the use of HTML tables to their planned and semantic rationale — that is laying out tabular data or other information. Tableless web designs are in vogue and they result in better accessibility of the information to a wider variety of users, using a wide variety of user agents. There are bandwidth savings as large numbers of semantically meaningless tags are removed from dozens of pages leaving fewer, but more meaningful headings, paragraphs and lists.

There is still a long way to go regarding the tableless web designs. Many of the web developers have yet to eliminate the tables from their web page layouts, while others are now get anxious about introducing a simple HTML table even where it is required. Some make mistakes of overusing span and div elements.

It is always best to start with what you know. Surprisingly, there are quite a few commonalities in the table and CSS approaches to tableless web design layout, as they start with the same raw material.


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