This blog is about Graphic Design, Vector Art, and Cartoon Illustration BradHallArt.com


Should you convert your website from tables to divs?

If you have an old website that was built using tables, instead of page divisions (divs), you may be wondering it it should be redesigned. The answer is no, and yes. No from a technical standpoint, yes from a design standpoint.

Before the introduction of page divisions, structure on a web page was done using tables. Tables are as old as HTML, and will always continue to be a part of it. The original use for tables was, well, tables. That is, tabular data - you know, rows and columns of information. Sometime in the late 90s, graphic designers figured out a way to use HTML tables to create structure on a page. In this way, the function of tables was *highjacked* by designers. It was because of tables that web pages started to look like magazine and newspaper layout, with multiple columns, colors, that sort of thing. And as more tricks were invented, web page layout got more and more complicated to look at. This evolved into what I call the *jigsaw puzzle* design. And if you've ever stared at a web page that is so complicated, with so many rows and columns and colors and stuff that you can't find anything, you get some idea of how far tables allowed web design to evolve.

The good news is that your website based on tables is in no danger. Tables will continue to be supported by browsers, and you needn't worry that your site will some day collapse. It won't. The structure of tables is propped up by jpegs and gifs (even if they are invisible), and they aren't going away, either. If you site looks good to you, leave it alone. Don't be alarmed by people who say *tables are out, divs are in*.

From a visual design standpoint, it's good to convert from tables to divs. Page divisions, by their nature, are difficult to *jigsaw*. Yes, you can do multiple columns, but that's not what they are designed to do. And they, along with designing for mobile devices, are helping along the trend to simplify web pages. Yes, it may have been cool a few years ago to have a web page that looked like the dashboard of a 747, but it's just not good design.

If you want to people to be able to use your website, simplify, clarify, and go ahead and use page divs and CSS.