DES 6.2 Layout tables: ensure correct readout order, avoid complicated nesting, describe with summary attribute

Ideally your designs should be coded using Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) for layout but, in the real world, the use of tables is often far easier to accomplish. In addition, you may be restricted to the use of tables if you are adapting an existing site or if layout tables are a restriction of the content management system that will be used.

Layout table usage is OK as long as accessibility is kept in mind.

  • Avoid over complexity:
    • Aim for as simple a structure as possible;
    • Look for designs that will be able to be broken down into simple elements (clear columns, clear navigation bars etc.);
    • This does not mean that you have to avoid things such as rounded corners or create a blocky appearance but the underlying structure should be easy to be cut into simple blocks;
    • Your page should be able to be 'degraded' to a single page with default styling - whilst still being usable and sensible.

Illustration of graceful degredation. The page is still fully functional and clear despite the absence of CSS