[thelist] Advice on using Tableless CSS layout for large eCommerce sites?

Sam sam at sam-i-am.com
Tue Sep 16 14:21:50 CDT 2003

What about the raising of the barrier to entry?

Going with a CSS layout moves complexity out of the html into the CSS 
(hopefully). Most of the time no-one need even look at the stylesheet - 
it just works. But when it doesn't, and new requirements get added, 
anyone who has been used to be able to edit or work with the html, now 
has to become comfortable with quite complex CSS. That rules out maybe 
80% of the web developers I know - programmers and server-side 
specialists who know enough html to get by, but wouldn't consider 
themselves front-end, client-side experts.

In an organization where there are many contributors to a website, it's 
just not practical right now to ask everyone to re-learn they way 
they've been working with html. With a table-less layout, yes the code 
is much cleaner and nicer, but it can require some serious detective 
work to figure out how to edit or change a layout - if it's even 
possible at all.

If you are the designated css expert, all those problems become your 
problems, and you're in trouble if you can't turn it around in the time 
people have become accustomed to.

I'm not just playing devil's advocate here. Table-less, page-layout CSS 
is not simple. For neatly encapsulated page components it can be a 
beautiful thing, but applied to page and content layout IMHO it breaks 
the KISS rule.

Remember complex table layouts? I spent years making them and then 
helping people maintain and extend them. Some best practices emerged and 
  people slowly learned the 2 or 3 tags, and basic concepts necessary. 
For the last 2 or 3 years I've increasingly been able to hand over code 
and expect developers to get it and be able to work with it. That's the 
benchmark for success - do other developers and designers understand 
your code, and when they extend it to make it fit what they need to do - 
does it still look good and work out right? CSS layout isn't there yet.

Doing the obvious, the "basic" stuff like 3 column templates with 
masthead/footer is full of pitfalls and tricks that are just too 
bleeding edge for widespread adoption at this point.

  - who is not a tables zealot, but will play one on tv if paid.

Steven Loe wrote:
> Advice on using Tableless CSS layout for large
> eCommerce sites?

> Upside...
> - Easier to maintain and less code, Thus: cost savings
> - Much easier/cheaper to customize/rebrand and
> personalize the site
> - Faster load times
> - 
> -
> Downside:
> - Will turn away 1%-3% of site users who are using
> Netscape 4.x
>     [stats say that 4% of our users are using Netscape
> 4 but we're not convinced that all of them are
> actually making purchases. -Working on getting better
> numbers].
> -

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