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CSS will help make your website DDA compliant. The DDA is Disabilities Discrimination Act, Act makes it "unlawful for a service provider to discriminate against a disabled person by refusing to provide any service which it provides to members of public", specifically mentioning websites.
Another benefit of using CSS is variable font sizes. CSS will allow you to specify a font size as a percentage, doing so will allow visitors with poor eye sight to enlarge text size. Tip: Try increasing font size of a page by holding down ctrl and scrolling wheel of your mouse (if it has one). You will notice that most websites do not allow you to increase font size (unless you are using Firefox browser which forces it) because they use pixel measurements. And those that work but use <font> tags (such as Google) are actually breaking accessibility guidelines.
Generally, websites designed in css are accessible on all sorts of devices including mobile phones and PDAs. The majority of hand held devices will simply ignore CSS, leaving behind a readable (but bland) web site behind. A table design however is likely to render too wide for viewable region.
Increase your popularity in SERPS!
Sorry, there I go again with acronyms. SERPS stands for Search Engine Result Pages - set of links returned by a search engine in response to a user query.
It doesn't take a genius to work out that, like humans, search engine will start reading from top of your web page and just like humans they want to find out how relevant this page is as soon as possible - so cutting down amount of code will make it easier for robot to find relevant text. Research suggests that you will also score "brownie points" with search engines for having standards compliant code that can be rendered across all mediums.
Tip: A combination of well written HTML code, fully utilised CSS and unique, well referenced content is key to a higher search engine ranking.
Disadvantages of using CSS
As previously mentioned, there arn't any real disadvantages of using CSS - pros far outweigh cons. To put it another way, CSS 'div based' design versus table based design is a bit like comparing Liverpool Football Club to Gresley Rovers. There's only ever going to be one winner and everybody knows it.
So on to only disadvantage I can think of...
Old browser issues
Old browsers, such as early versions of Netscape and Internet Explorer. may have a hard time displaying CSS, especially as CSS-2 is now available to use and only most recent browsers support it.
The solution? Download latest browser! Which reminds me of potentially one more disadvantage; giving yourself a headache whilst attempting to get your website to look identical in Internet Explorer and Firefox - doh! Oh well, practise makes perfect.
If you are interested in re-designing your website to use CSS, I would start by learning basics. Find a simple CSS tutorial on web and work your way through some more complex CSS examples. Then, have a go at doing your own! You will more than likely hit some problems with cross-browser compatibility but you should find help on webmaster forums such as those found at www.webmasterworld.com and www.sitepoint.com.
James Crooke is a software engineer at CJ Website Hosting. Research interests include Object Orientated Web Applications, SEO and Accessibility in web design.