Using Frames in Web Pages - Advantages and Disadvantages
The Decision to Use and Continue to Use Frames
Frames - benefits and problems
Jakob Nielsen has a very popular article, originally written in 1996, and revised in 1999, that describes the ten things not to do with web sites. It was hard to read his comments about frames, as I included them in my original web site design. More importantly, I retained them in the revised site design - twice! To see the frames pages on my site, select: Frames Pages.
Frames - website structure and appearance
Frames and tables were explained in the: Learning HTML and Other Programming Languages section of this WSDC (Web Site Design and Construction) e-learning program.
As you read this page, it should have three columns. If it doesn't, select: three column display.
Each page comprises three columns, but only two frames. The first or left column is one frame. The second frame contains two - the middle and right columns. The second frame basically consists of two tables to form the columns.
HTML frames and website design
Why did I make it so complicated?
In my original web design, I wanted the left hand column to be my site contents. Wherever you wanted to go, it was there to select. It was always visible. You could select information about my services, background, articles, contact details, etc. very easily. To see the site, select: Home (For ease of use, this will open a new page).
The same design rules are applied in the revised design. The left frame is the contents. For most of the Derek Stockley site, the left column is the site contents. When you enter the e-learning area, the left frame changes. It provides a contents list of the actual e-learning program you are using. For example, on the left you should now be seeing under the "Derek Stockley - Home" logo, the letters "WSDC" (short for Web Site Design and Construction) and the contents of this tutorial (introduction, road map, my personal journey, etc.)
The right hand yellow column gives pointers to the content of the section you are now reading. It highlights the key content of the section and can be read prior to reading the section in detail. It is also a help for "skimmers".
Frames provide better site exploration
I believe this design using frames gives you better control of your exploration of this site. At most points, you should know where you are. In each e-journey, you know where you have been and are yet to go because the links are color coded.
You can see where you have been by selecting the button on the contents list. It refreshes the screen to ensure all visited pages are displayed.
I do open a new window for each external link. When I do, you read: "This opens a new window. Please close it to return to this point. " Some writers state this is annoying. However, it allows a 100% screen, and secondly, it allows you to come back to the e-journey quickly - you just close the window. This is particularly important if you have viewed a number of pages on the link. If the link is good, you may go to ten or more pages. That's a lot of "back" buttons to go through.
Consequences of using frames
So what have been the consequences?
Part of tutorial
Site design decisions
Three column structure
Site contents always visible
Also sub-section contents
Search engine effect
Frames and Adsense
Advantages and disadvantages
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I searched extensively to find someone to justify my decision to keep using frames. Luckily, many of the initial problems with frames have been overcome with the later versions of most browsers (Internet Explorer, etc.).
Many writers still list frames as a bad design decision. They are incorrect. Careful reading indicates that they have put frames in the "too hard" basket. Yes, it takes some work, but if you know what you are doing, you can use frames efficiently and effectively.
They also have some SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) advantages.
An article that supports my approach is: To Frame or Not to Frame ...That is the Question. (This will open a new page. Please close it to return to this point.)
Another useful tutorial is: Frames and Tables - Advantages and Disadvantages. (This will open a new page. Please close it to return to this point.)
Jakob Nielsen's 1996 and 1999 articles are very good. To read them, select: Jakob Nielsen's 1999 Article - this is the revised article. A link to the original article is included as are links to related articles. (This will open a new page. Please close it to return to this point.)
Good luck with your "framing".
To return to web design principles, please select: Web Design
If you now wish to reconsider hosting issues, please select: Service Provider and Hosting Issues
If you now wish to review your HTML, etc., select: Learning HTML and Other Programming Languages
Alternatively, if you are now ready to proceed with your web development, see: Web Development Processes
To return to the index of this e-journey, see: Web Design and Construction - Road Map
To return to the Derek Stockley Home Page: Derek Stockley Home Page
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This page was last reviewed and updated on 13 July 2006.