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> Currently in the absence of CSS there will be no icon â€“ which (Iâ€™m hoping you agree) is critical to communicating there was an error.
But even with an icon tucked away in your source code, you are still not communicating anything special to a machine that has to interpret your code.
The question you should be asking is, “how do I communicate to a machine that this line of text is important?”
And with that comes a rather simple answer:
[p class=error][strong]Error:[/strong] [em]Message[/em] [/p]
As an added bonus you’ve gained a couple of style hooks that can now be used to set up the CSS that will convey the importance of this text to the human eye.
Even though I agree with you that visual design is communication, I think that CSS is the best place for expressing it. You wouldn’t want red font tags around that error message too? ;)