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Though this site isn’t XHTML (yet), I try my best to use structural and meaningful markup to the content of the document. In my mind at least, this is more important than having my pages valid to the latest standards in the most squeaky clean way. Sometimes we lose sight of the fact that in the end people’s experience of the site is more important massaging our egos with “Valid XHTML” logos. This isn’t saying standards are not important; on the contrary, they help to ensure that our content is accessible to all, both backwardly with old browsers and for the new browsers that are released in the future. It is just making the point that a valid site is not the be all and end all of website authoring.
In trying to use structural markup, I try to resist using extraneaous class and purely visual markup. However, I’m pragmatic and willing to put them in when I need to. Afterall, most visitors are using a visual browser. In addition, though I am CSS layout through and through, I don’t see it as some kind of religious thing. I just see that I can write CSS layouts much quicker and easier than I ever could with the old table based flavours of the site. Sure, it takes a while to shift over to pure CSS layout, but for me at least, the conversion has been well worth it.