Reblogged from Smashing Magazine. Written by Jason Gross.

Right now is an exciting time to be in the Web design community. Every month we seem to stumble on a new thought-provoking way to put our expanding tool set to use for our clients and the patrons of the Web. Many designers are chomping at the bit to litter their websites with new CSS, advanced HTML and ultra-engaging JavaScript. By all means, go out and use every last declaration and element you can get your hands on. Abusing, misusing and taking advantage of everything the Web could possibly offer is the best way to learn about what we can and can’t and should and shouldn’t do in future.

Whether you are excitedly exploring responsive design, diving headlong into accessibility, building a typographic masterpiece or seeing what level of interactivity you can achieve, all of your Web-based projects should have a common core. All of the new methods being discussed in the design community daily might be overwhelming, but no matter what route you ultimately take, almost any Web project you embark on today should start with solid HTML and logical CSS. This may seem like common sense, but the fact is that very, very few websites today benefit from sensationally optimized HTML and CSS and appropriately applied JavaScript.

When I say solid HTML, I don’t just mean that it validates as XHTML 1.0 Transitional. I don’t even mean that it should validate as Strict. What I mean is that your website should be void of superfluous containers, rogue classes and misused elements (both new and old). The process of building out the core components of a website may not be exciting, but this foundation is critical. These days, we have better options. HTML5 has opened the door to a new way to structure websites, and CSS3 is revealing new methods for not only achieving advanced visuals but doing so more effectively. As designers and developers, we have failed to hold ourselves to high enough standards for too long. Websites built on an exceptional framework have simply become optional.

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