It’s been lamented that most of the people using CSS for design are the people who shouldn’t be designing in the first place. I have a theory about why the real designers aren’t jumping in.
Building a site with tables, while tedious, is generally straightforward. You make sure your body margins are set to 0, you check that you have enough spacer GIFs, you chop accordingly, and you’re good to go. It’s refined to the point where there isn’t a lot of thinking involved anymore.
CSS is still quirky. You have to remember to add your padding to your width instead of subtracting it, although in some browsers it works the opposite way. (I have to admit, IE5’s way of doing it makes far more sense to me) You have to test your expandibility and make sure that a smaller (or larger) window size doesn’t cause elements to overlap or position themselves completely differently. You have to carefully test your horizontal alignment, and you have to use hacks to get any form of vertical alignment happening.
That’s just too much logic and problem solving for most left–brained types. When you consider most graphics applications, they are visual, and rightly so. You don’t create PostScript documents or PDFs from code, you use Quark or InDesign to preview your work, as you work.
WYSIWYG editors are much–maligned by HTML purists. Given that there are, to my knowledge, no comprehensive and really good CSS–design packages available, the situation doesn’t seem to be improving.
So code you must, and coding is something that designers do not do unless forced to. This is why cookie–cutter, GIF–free generic templates are the best CSS advocates have come up with so far.
No tools? No quality design. And I wonder what the likelihood is that a really well–designed, flexible CSS building tool coming out any time soon is. When you consider the logic that goes into breaking up your page structure from endless DIVs, Ps, Hxs and so forth into two–column, properly aligned structures, it’s hard to imagine software replacing the good old human ingenuity involved in doing it right.