rocknbil - 5:02 pm on Jul 7, 2010 (gmt 0)
I can't remember where I read this and couldn't find direct references, so you can take this as hearsay/recommendation or look it up yourself. :-) I know it conflicts with the webaim guidelines, so maybe it's just a preference.
They say "put the content first" but . . . why would you need a skip navigation link then? Personally I prefer to leave the document in it's natural state, making for less work: navigation, h1, content, navigation again. In respect to accessing the content of a site, I think navigating takes priority over the content. To navigate ,you use the tab key (or other user-configured input.) To access the content, you can scroll with the down arrows or . . . use the skip navigation link.
You're by no means locked into this if you want your content closer to the top, but to maintain a "navigation-first" structure you have to do more work (so what's new. :-) ) You can apply tabindex attributes on all your links, and form controls, thus controlling where the tabs land. The catch is that if you do this, you have to do it over the entire page, and your entire site. This allows you to move content first in the source code (which is a really good idea for search engines,) but this makes it an immense amount of work and increases maintenance. Move something higher in the source/page, you need to re-order all the tab indices.