The most basic response you'll get to this question is that tables are meant for tabular data while table-less styling using xHTML/CSS is used for layout.
When coding table-less, it's not just about using CSS and avoiding the <table> tags... It's about making the site Search Engine Optimized (SEO), making the code semantic (for screen readers), and increasing page loading speeds while minimizing the amount of markup used in the code.
All of this can be argued one way or another, but in general; that's your normal response to such a question.
And yes, many people have created a site "completely table-less"; it's not hard.
Tableless web design (or tableless web layout) is a method of web design and development without using HTML tables for page layout control purposes. Instead of HTML tables, style sheet languages such as CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) are used to arrange elements and text on a web page. CSS was introduced by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) to improve web accessibility and to make HTML code semantic rather than presentational.
I'm now getting really bored of these thread's. It's the same thing over and over again, which produces no new answers. Sort of like the vb vs ipb, or mac vs pc debates. Is there no way we could sticky some sort of article about the advantages and disadvantages of using tables or css in structuring a design?
Maybe we should write something like that in our header ? so everyone will notice what is going on.. and none will ask this question .. It is so basic thing that table less designs are a must ! everyone should code his websites into table less designs also if using cms'ses Im also always sugesting cms'ses that gives table less output.. they are simple better !
Tableless designs are always better. The benefits of tableless designs are as follows:
Reduce web page download time
Convert your web site to CSS design and reduce your web site size by 2 to 5 times. This means the download time will at least decrease by two times or more (depending on the amount of images you have).
* tables occupy from 20% to 80% more code real estate than simple, correct HTML markup: this reduces the web site size, download and customer waiting time
* as browsers display anything in a table after they scan it twice, it takes a lot of time to load a table (especially those used for design purposes)
* also, the CSS files are cached on a server, but tables in HTML files are not - the browsers load them again every time they see them
Edit your site easily
Design your site with CSS and maintain your site easily by adjusting just one file to change the appearance of a single element throughout the whole site.
Make your web site screen size friendly
Bandwidth & Rendering
Tableless design means less bandwidth. If you link in a CSS file, a browser will cache it on 1st load of a page and on further navigation only page structure itself is being downloaded. In addition to traffic cuts it significantly reduces page latency as well.
Prioritizing Cascading Style Sheets will also ease the process of porting a site to various platforms, e.g. mobile phones, handhelds, etc. or usage, e.g. printing. Not to mention making the site reachable for a screen reader or braille device.
With CSS site layout is kept apart from its structure and is centralized. That makes site design a lot easier to change. For example changing 1 single digit in CSS may increase or decrease font size of an headline on each and every page of a site.
CSS is a reusable resource as opposed to the inline definitions of HTML.
Naturally, when it comes to tables, one often comes across such an issue as fixed widths, heights or font sizes. Implement CSS and you get a web site, which will fit the browser window on any screen resolution. Also, it's font will increase or decrease if your visitor adjusts his browser settings (does not happen with fixed font sizes [px]).
Increase your web site usability and acessibility
Get Cascading Style Sheets for various media (screen, print, mobile, aural, tv, etc) to make your web site usable and accessible for even more visitors.