Recently joined the forum, been a poster in many forums, but only those where its just idle chit chat and very few where i can actually learn and improve my skills - this has now changed and in time i will contribute what i know to this one.
12 months ago i agreed to have a go at designing an eCommerce site for a mate. I had never touched web design before, however i had been involved in IT for some 10 years - so had the brain to take it in and learn etc. Basically my mate paid alot of money for a website (approx £5k) which failed miserably for 16 months, only earning him a 1/5th of the money he had outlayed on the development. He lost all faith in the web and this was a shame as his industry needs to be online BIGTIME.
Throughout the build i always thought i could probably get it to 80-85% complete and then turn to a few friends who had offered their services (they were already web developers). As time went by, i felt more confident and ultimately i managed to finish the build with very little help - although a huge amount of learning and research.
Sadly, i built the site using a table, which i do not think i would do, if i started the build today as i have been learning about CSS, divs, (x)html etc. I also have made a few mistakes which i would not do nowadays - but hey has anyone ever designed a perfect website as their first ever? i hope not!!
As the site had been around for 18 months, there was no problem with Google etc. all that was needed was a site that Google would like to take a look at - SEO on the old one was horrendous and yielded nothing at all. Currently the site is taking an amazing amount each month and this is shortly to be improved by offering secure payments. The new site had (in 15 days) taken more that the old one had in 16 months, which felt awesome - a noob creating a far more successful website than an established designer. Bit like playing Tiger Woods as an amateur and beating him.
Anyway, it has been gnawing away at me the last few weeks that the way in which i have laid the site out could and probably should be changed now. The way in which i laid the site out means to move over to <divs> and a much cleaner design would be quite some work for me.
Tables are slowly being removed and replaced with better methods and my main question is whether a website with so many columns and rows (which offered itself to a table design initially) is practical to move over to divs.
I cannot come up with a definitive answer as i do not have the skills or knowledge to answer this and this is where i would like to ask some of you far more experience guys what you would do. For a huge amount of very competitive keywords, the website is listed in the top 3 spots on Google, which feels great to have achieved, especially taking my experience into consideration. Sites like this and the resources online are a testament to you guys for the time and effort you put into them. I have been a large contributor on other forums on other subjects and in time i hope i can add to this site, rather than just bleed from the resources. Anyone interested in poker for example, will (i'm sure) have seen my name before.
The site is here if anyone would like to offer any advice. I am concerned on damaging the current positions within the search engines and also whether removing tables is the correct method for this site. Any helpful tips or answers on this, will be greatly appreciated.