Tables were the first way of really controlling layouts and are still a preferred method for many webmasters (me included). CSS has made great strides towards controlling positioning elements, but older browsers don’t handle many of the elements very well. Heck. Some of the NEWER browsers don’t handle some of the elements very well. But I digress….
Simple table layouts should render similarly in different browsers, however, when you start adding in widths for cells, background images and some of the more esoteric items in tables, problems can ensue – particularly in older browsers. Nothing is more annoying than having it look beautiful in one browser and unreadable in another with disjointed backgrounds, columns that aren’t lining up, etc.
I try to use several tables that run in series most of the time. Instead of having nested table after nested table relying on a parent cell to hold it, most of the time, the same effect can be achieved with several tables down the page. Overcoming the background image problems with NS can usually be solved by using this method and then setting the actual page background to the desired image.