Andy Budd offers an objective look at table based vs. CSS based design, arguing that using tables for layout sometimes makes more sense than relying on CSS. He also states that the “CSS only” approach of some standards enthusiasts may alienate those not so well-versed in CSS.
Although some of the purists in my customer base may be shocked to hear this, I’m inclined to agree with Andy. IMO, you should use whichever technique makes your work easier – both long-term and short-term. Now, I tend to avoid tables since they’re a pain to maintain, but I also realize pure CSS designs can be equally painful given all the cross-browser pitfalls.
When I advocate CSS, it’s never from a dogmatic position – instead, it’s simply because CSS makes things so much easier, especially when it comes to updating your site. If using CSS doesn’t simplify your work, then you need to simplify how you’re using CSS, even if that means (shudder) using tables for your layout.