Table based design: Why I loathe it, and you should too!

If there is one thing that grinds my gears it’s table based design and the “web development” companies that continue to use it.

Web development is one heck of an industry. It changes, transforms, and adapts. I feel that in order for you to call yourself a web developer, or your company a web development company you need to develop with the web.

Development as defined by is: the act or process of developing; growth; progress: child development; economic development.

Growth, progress! Our job as web developers is to promote growth and progress of the web. We must adapt as the web adapts. When a “web development” agency provides it’s clients with old, outdated, un-accessible, table-based, web development they are not only stifling the growth of the internet they are literally taking money out of business’ pockets.

So how does someone developing a table based website take money from people? Well lets look at it this way. Let us say that you “Bagels R us” want a website done by “WMOTBWFY Web Development Firm” and its going to cost you around $800 as you just want a static site with no CMS and maybe a google maps. Well that’s great you take a look at the proofs and make some changes and within a week or two you have a shiny new site. Excellent! Now after a little while you start getting some good business. You expand, and open 2 new locations. Well your site now needs to be updated so you contact “WMOTBWFY Web Development Firm” and they make some updates for you and all seems to be going well. Until one day you find out that one of your most loyal customers (a man who lost his eyesight in a tragic origami accident) stops ordering bagels from you.

In fact it seems that almost all your vision impaired customers are leaving, as well as a lot of your other customers. What is happening?! Well my friend you have just been SEO‘d out… Google does not like websites based on tables and your website is no longer on the front page when you search for bagels in your respective city on Google. But why does Google not like your site? It looks amazing! Well Google doesn’t like your site because it is not accessible. Being accessible means that it is very easy for programs to read your site aloud for those who are visually impaired. Believe it or not even though someone is visually impaired they still can and do use the internet. When a page reader encounters a table based website it reads out a lot of information, most of which makes little to no sense to the person listening. So now that you’ve lost your spot on the top hits list on Google and all your visually impaired customers have defected to the new “We got Bagels” stores popping up everywhere you are effectively loosing money because a certain “web development” firm provided you with a state-of-the-art 90′s website for approximately the same price as a properly developed div based website.

Lets just pretend now for a moment that a few months later “WMOTBWFY Web Development Firm” goes out of business. they aren’t getting many customers and business was too slow to pay for all those “in-the-know” developers. Now you need to find a new developer to work on your site. So you come to hire me and say “Hey John! Bagels R’ Us is in trouble! We have lost our spot on the Google front page and a large amount of our customer base has already defected to that smarmy new shop!”. I now have to tell you that your website needs a complete redesign and guess what. It’s going to cost about $900-$1000 now, unless you want new graphics. Why is it so much more than the original site though? Well Not only is the old site’s code useless the new web developer would need to piece the graphics that were cut apart by the table based design back together. At the end of the day “WMOTBWFY Web Development Firm” not only took your money once (by making it necessary to re-develop your site) they took who knows how much of your money a second way (defected customers).

Table based design is dead. If any developers are out there reading this please, for the love of God, start learning how to properly make div based websites styled with CSS. For you business out there please ask any possible web development firms, freelancers, or friends if they use table based development before you make something that stifles the development of the internet and costs you money.