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An excellent, well-written and very forward thinking article.
With the major browsers starting to offer support for all the design niceties in CSS3 I feel that the visual design and HTML prototyping elements of projects are starting to converge. The tools exist to quickly and easily produce design elements such as transparency, custom fonts, shading using code.
For most of our projects, I agree that thinking about content, then moving to HTML as quickly as possible tends to streamline the process. You have your content in front of you and can quickly and easily tweak, change and experiment with the visual aspects.
I’d perhaps steer away from this process if I were developing a more app-centric piece – where you really need to think about user interaction and complex UI elements. In this case, I think that producing wireframes or comps in traditional graphics packages tends to help – allowing you to visualize the flow without investing too much up-front time coding/designing.