Then: Table Based Presentation
Years ago, web site layouts were designed by weaving together a complex grid of tables nested inside more tables. Web site content was positioned on the page by insertion into these typically complex table grids.
Changing the appearance of a table-based web site was a time consuming, expensive endeavor. Tables had to be unwoven and reconstructed, row by row and column by column. Site wide changes required extensive reprogramming to build new tables on each page.
Web designers understandably rejoiced when software companies began selling web page authoring software that would automatically generate the complex tables and insert the contents without requiring manual coding, freeing designers to focus on design rather than infrastructure.
There was, and continues to be, one major drawback to such What-You-See-Is-What-You-Get or WYSIWYG web site authoring tools. Most still generate table based code, which is difficult for the search engines to index and a serious challenge to accessibility, especially for those using screen reader technology.
Fortunately, table-based presentation is no longer necessary. Although HTML tables are still the preferred, standards-compliant method to present tabular data, table-based presentation for non-tabular data has been deprecated by the W3C, which means it is no longer the recommended, standards-compliant method to present an entire web site.
Now: CSS Based Presentation
Professionally developed, contemporary web sites employ a dual faceted approach, using CSS to separate and centralize presentational programming, coupled with standards compliant programming techniques set forth by the World Wide Web Consortium, W3C, the international standards setting organization for the Internet.
When employed correctly, this approach empowers code-capable web designers and front-end web developers to build search-engine-friendly, flexible web sites that readily accommodate changes and improvements.
Separating content from presentation saves money by streamlining web page structure, making it easier, less time consuming, and more affordable to update your site.
This efficiency translates into reduced programming costs to build your site and dramatically lower costs to modify and maintain it. Lower programming costs provide you the freedom to update your site often, while minimizing the impact on your budget. Each time you modify content or presentation, you will appreciate the separation.