Take the Leap, Ditch the Tables

Happy Leap Day to all. I like to think of today as a special bonus day that
only comes along once every four years. You should take advantage of your
bonus day to take a Leap and break out of your old routines, to try something
new and bold. Today is the day you are going to take a Leap into the future
and ditch those unwieldy tables on your website.
Those tables you use to maintain that painfully complex layout with all of
the neatly sliced up images. You have tables inside of tables inside of tables.
Your users are left waiting for hours, sending out for pizza and doing crossword
puzzles, while they watch your pages slowly loading.

But unlike in the Year 2000 when we had our last Leap Day, we are more advanced
today. We have better, faster browsers that mostly comply with W3C standards.
Today we can build a page in CSS that won’t immediately look like garbage
to 90% of the people viewing it. So we will do what in the Year 2000 was
only a dream, we will use CSS to layout our pages. We will use tables as
tables were intended, to display data in a grid.

But how do you do this? How do you make the Leap to CSS? And why is it worth
the trouble? Well, the first part is easy. e have books, tutorials, and software
tools that make creating and working with CSS easy. I’ll list a few at the
end of this article. And as to the why, there a tons of good reasons to choose
from. Using CSS leaves you with faster loading pages. While you’re ditching
the tables you can throw the font tags out as well and this will make your
pages leaner and code cleaner.

We’ve all heard the piles of statistics that
tell us how many users leave for every second your site takes to load so
taking 10-20K worth of tags out of a page is a big deal in terms of lost
visitors. And nested tables take an extra long time to load so ditching
those makes a huge difference. You’ll also save money if you pay for bandwidth.
For a busy site with thousands or millions of visitors a day that 10K per
page adds up very quickly.

So take the Leap and make the move to CSS now. If you’re using Dreamweaver
MX 2004 you’ll find the new CSS palettes extremely useful. For tutorials
to get you started try visiting Webmonkey,
W3C, SitePoint,
and
Macromedia
Dreamweaver Developer Center
. Good luck and let
me know
how it goes for
you.

Kevin Hall