I’m amazed how many websites are still styled with table tags. Table tags are easy to recognize, just take a peek under the hood at the HTML coding for the site. You will see an abundant usage of <tr> and <td> tags throughout the website. From the front side, the design of the site may look outdated and the body is narrower, around 600 pixels, whereas 1000 pixels on most sites you see today.
Table tags where first introduced in 1993 by Dave Raggett as a proposed mark-up for layout design consisting of rows and columns, much like an Excel spreadsheet, and with that HTML 3.0 was born.
The style is easy to learn and many novice designers still use this technique today. However, table tags still have its place in the modern websites, but not as a design factor. Anytime you need a spreadsheet to display a list or need to display anything in a form, tables are your answer but should be avoided as your base for designing your website.
CSS stylesheets were introduced at the same time as a means to style the tables. They could be internal – meaning that the coding is place in the page itself or externally – meaning the code had its own page such as style.css and could be shared by many different HTML pages that needed similar design features. External stylesheets created a faster a more efficient website.
In 1997 HTML 4.0 and CSS2 was launched and the W3C recommended that table should no longer be used as a primary source of design. Table design should be replaced with a block element design that can be ‘floated’ on the page using a <div> element which we still use today.
In 2013 HTML 5.0 and CSS3 was launched to meet the need of mobile usage and the need to simplify many commonly used CSS attributes as well as introduce some new attributes.