All in all, the concept of tags is much more flexible than traditional workspaces.
To the right of the tag list comes the task list, which is the list of windows on the currently visible tag(s).
You can cycle through all available layouts with left-click (forward) and right-click (backward) or by using Win Space.
There's a spiral layout, a maximized layout (which only shows the focused window), a fullscreen layout (which even covers the status bar), a magnifier layout (which shows the focused window in the middle and the other ones on the background) and a floating layout, which shows all windows free-floating and covering each other, like you're used to from stacking window managers.
By default, awesome behaves like a regular stacking window manager, but it started as a tiling window manager and I still find this mode the most efficient to use.
Just click on the icon in the upper right to use the tiled layout.
Because of this, awesome is primarily targeted at power users, developers, and anyone who wants to have fine-grained control over their graphical environment.