Semantics is one of those things that HTML nerds like to go on and on about but most normal designers either don’t understand it or don’t care about it. Being an HTML nerd, I find semnatic HTML interesting and I prefer to use semantic HTML elements whenever I can. but I know that I’m the exception not the rule. I was talking with a group of print designers a month or two ago, and one of them asked me why the STRONG element was better than the B element. Apparently, his web designer had switched over to all semantic HTML and was asking that all the content developers do the same, and that primarily meant that he wanted them to use STRONG instead of B and EM instead of I, but my friend couldn’t see why STRONG and EM would be better. After all, they do the same thing, and from a speed perspective, B and I are both better because they use fewer characters. I tried to explain that the STRONG and EM elements have a semantic meaning that B and I don’t.* but if you don’t understand semantics, it doesn’t help.
* if you’re familiar with HTML5, you know that the B and I elements have been given semantic meaning as well, but most of the time the are just used to add the styles of bold and italics, which should really be handled by the CSS.
Learn more: Semantic HTML