The truth about structuring an HTML5 page

This is an edited excerpt from Chapter 3 of The Truth About HTML5 by Luke Stevens.

One of the most common tasks web designers do is mark up page structure, which usually consists of a header, footer, navigation, sidebar and content area. It’s the sort of thing you can probably do blindfolded and handcuffed to your chair after being spun around for five minutes.

HTML5 introduces a handful of new elements to help us define the structure of a given web page, such as <section>, <article>, <nav>, <aside>, <header> and <footer>.

We shouldn’t use them. They were made up on a whim by (probably) one guy in 2004 – and even he seems to have forgotten what their purpose is.

If that’s all you needed to know, great. Keep using divs with meaningful class and ID names, and appropriate <h1>-<h6> headings. They’ll be valid forever (more or less), and you’re not missing out on anything.

However, I suggest using some non-HTML5 features when marking up documents, such as ARIA attributes for blind and sight-impaired users and microdata schemas (when appropriate) for search engine results.

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