08 Apr 08 5:46 pm
This is kind of off the topic but oh man I need to set the record straight here :)
1) Tables do not *directly* harm your search engine rankings. The search engines don't go "ACK, A TABLE! DOWN! DOWN!" There is the slight possibility that a higher code to text ratio could hurt you (tables use gobs more code than the humble DIV) but any real problems are more due to the structure of your site and the way it fits into the table than the table itself.
For instance, by using a table structure you could end up having the content of your left navigation bar appear first (from a search engine spider's perspective) rather than the actual content of your page, since the spider will read the entire content of your left TD before it reads your right TD. The first 50 words or so of your page are quite important from an SEO perspective, so it's a good idea to make sure your best material is in there, NOT your navigation.
This is where DIVs can be handy: You can have one main section for your content floated to the right and appearing first to the search engines, and your left side navigation appearing further down the page (when reading the HTML) but floated to the left. This isn't easily done with tables.
2) Adrian: Mate, sorry to bust your bubble, but tableless design, CSS, DIVs and all that guff is entirely possible without using "position: absolute;" once. The reason it can mess up in different browsers is due to different "default" values for web page elements that you don't specify yourself (for instance, how much space (margin or padding) should there be between paragraphs? How much space should there be before and after divs? etc) and because most people dont' know how to specify a Doctype, which means that the browser doesn't know what "type" of (x)html you're using. (Yes, there are different flavours, and changing your Doctype can change the entire appearance of your page. If you don't specify it's giving them free license to do whatever nasty things they feel like doing.)
Specify a doctype and do a global reset for your CSS and you're almost guaranteed similar displays across browsers. Of course there will *always* be issues with Internet Explorer, but if we ignore it it'll go away eventually :)
Ok, that was waaay geeky.
I'll go back to my pizza, coke and WoW now :)