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Designers on CSS inluding Deker

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Feb 21st 2005#166019 Report
Member since: Mar 24th 2003
Posts: 586
Alright, here's the deal. Lots of information out there about CSS and all this switching over to standards and all.

So Deker, I was checking out your blog and found this post you had made back in July of last year I think it was.
http://www.onethreeone.com/blog/archives/000337.php

Anyhow, my question is: How do any of you designers feel about doing tableless designs?

I have a really hard time, not so much with CSS as I'm understanding more and more of it using tables and HTML 4.0 as opposed to using XHTML 1.0 loose and/or strict. I've played with it, but feel I lose some creativity on it.

Then I look at sites like this here at teamphotoshop, which uses tables and I'm not sure how important it is, or which side of the line to stand on. Sure, Zeldman made a great impact on how we should move away from tables, and only using them for their purpose, such as plugging in data, but man, I'm breaking my head here.

So how do you guys do it? How far does one go? I've seen some great sites in XHTML and CSS but when it comes to it, I'm not sure how much of the difference it is really. Any input?

Cheers!
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Feb 21st 2005#166023 Report
Member since: Mar 18th 2001
Posts: 6632
Some layouts are just a pain in the ass to do with CSS. Like 3 column layouts. They require lots of hacks and things to make them work. I think it's ok to just use a simple 3 column table for something like that, and to do the rest with CSS.

That being said, pretty much every site I've done in the past year or two has been CSS. Once you get the hang of it it's much much much easier than tables, and definitely doesn't limit creativity because there is a lot more you can do with it than with a table grid.

CSS/XHTML are only going to become more popular and needed in the future though, and if you don't force yourself to learn it, you're going to be left behind in a few years.
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Feb 21st 2005#166024 Report
Member since: Mar 24th 2003
Posts: 586
I agree that CSS/XHTML are necessary and have their place. But I've read in other places that there are times that tables are better for the job. In this case; a 3 column layout. But when it comes to designing a graphic intense site, aren't we a bit limited or find ourselves substituting images for others that would work better?

I think what I'm really aiming for is: Should a site always validate? Does it always have to be compliant? There are some sites that don't seem to validate because of some CMS or the use of certain JavaScript.

So while I consider using XHTML/CSS I still see others using tables. Take for instance sites created by 2Advanced. I've noticed that their last few sites aren't using as much flash and are pretty clean, but they use tables for layouts. What do you say to the results of large companies that continue using tables.

And yet on the other hand you have sites like AT&T's homepage that just went CSS based, not to mention McAfee's site. So I know it's out there and people are understanding to be more compliant, but when and how much.

I guess I just feel I'm not caught up and it frustrates me a bit. I wish I had knowledge like Zeldman and Eric Meyer but I don't. And I see sites going up, and I'm trying to keep up with all the changes. Being that I'm not a techy geek gets to me sometimes as well, although I can design a site or two.

Deker, if you have time, let me know what you think about this site I've made. It's a playground right now and I have an English and Spanish version. My first sites in XHTML/CSS and they validate, last time I checked.

The site is http://www.zerimarfx.com/home/
The Spanish version is at http://www.zerimarfx.com/inicio/

I still have to iron out some bugs and stuff and have only checked it in Firefox, Opera, and IE.

I'm not looking for criticism, but I know I could do a whole lot more, it's too basic looking to me and I want it to be more graphic intense. I don't know if I'm making sense. Maybe I'm just a bit frustrated and I'm trying to justify the use of tables still. But I know we have to go into the future.

Cheers!
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Feb 22nd 2005#166036 Report
Member since: Mar 18th 2001
Posts: 6632
I think those sites look great, Zerimar! Your coding is clean and nicely laid out, and the graphics are great too. The only thing I'd change on the english version is the section headers. Because of their placement on the page they look like part of a sub-navigation menu, rather than a page header. If they were on top of the content rather than beside it I think that would help.

2advanced and other primarily Flash-based firms are only concerned with how things look. They put accessibility and usability on the back burner, to make more room for spinning logos and techno soundtracks. They are hardly an example to look up to as far as coding style is concerned.

I don't think every site has to validate, and I rarely even check mine. My reasons for using CSS are that it's easier to update an entire site with just a few lines of code, and that it greatly helps your rankings in the search engines. A lot of sites wear a little "Valid XHTML" badge on their sites like it's a little gold star showing how good they are or something. I find that to be kind of silly. If I know I'm not using tables for layout, or font tags or anything like that, then that's good enough for me.

And there really aren't any situations where a table is a better choice. It's just that it's a whole lot easier than dealing with a bunch of CSS hacks, at this point in time. But there are a lot of ways to do a 3 column layout without hacks, and without tables, so it really just depends on the circumstances.

That being said, there are still somethings that are just silly to do in CSS in my opinion. Take this article for example: http://www.alistapart.com/articles/layeredfudge/

They write this whole long, complex article on how to make that work, when a simple table could have it fixed in 30 seconds. For things like this, I think the CSS gurus are just trying to do it in CSS because they can, not because it's the absolute best way. I mean sure, ideally you'd want to do it in CSS, but as I stated in that article in my blog, I don't think it's very cost effective to spend 2 hours trying to get that to work, when you could spend 30 seconds on doing it with a table, and move on to something else.
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Feb 22nd 2005#166054 Report
Member since: Mar 24th 2003
Posts: 586
Hey Dek, thanks for your comments. That was the first time I ever let anyone see my work like that...took me several months to get that stuff down. But your comments mean alot man!

About the flash gurus, I agree that they tend to care more about how things look. But I have that itch on my end to really go for the look, and not so much the coding. But I think that started changing when I was reading an article on Andy Bud's blog - I think that's where it was at.

It was in regards to stores having parking for the disabled, people in need. And we should apply the same principles to our sites. I think that serves true when you have someone struggling with cerebral palsy wanting to look at your site and has a hard time controlling the mouse. And that thought hit me hard because I have a niece who has special needs.

But I hear what you're saying, and I look forward to learning more and more of this because it really is easy to update sites and keep them working and functioning in the right way.

Cheers!
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