An alternative approach to data tables

As a footnote to the last few days’ articles on writing original content, it’s worth thinking about data tables. When creating a product page, you can’t “re-word” those, after all. If other suppliers on the web have the same data table on their websites, does it contribute to making your page “non-unique”?

I can’t imagine it does, to be honest. But you may not need to run the data table as text at all.

In the early days of the web, tables were one of the cleverest parts of the language (HTML) which forms a web page. They kept elements in the right spatial relationship, and whatever the size of the browser window, they could re-size to fit. For several years, designers would construct entire web pages from tables, something for which they were never intended.

Nowadays, web page design needs to be much more fluid, and designers have progressed to better techniques. Tables are reserved for, well, tables, as they were originally intended. But the way they resize to fit the page doesn’t work so well with the wide range of screen sizes we now have.

One way around this is to run a data table as an image, so that it’ll always look the same, reliably so. Purists who want to keep web page sizes minimal might not like the idea, and of course the data in the table can’t be read by search engines – but it doesn’t need to be. And with our “unique content” in mind, maybe that’s even a good thing.


Running this data table as an image ensures it will always be seen in the correct proportions. And search engines don’t need to see the data in such a table.

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