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Framing For Fun And Profits - Designing With Or Without Frames

by: Corinna and Leron Gittens-Arnold

So, you have decided to take the plunge and build your own web site.

Great! Good on you!

But as you know there are many factors involved in web site creation, and many things to consider in the construction of your site.

One of the main design issues is Frames I am writing this under the assumption that you are new to the world of web site design and therefore are unfamiliar with the concept of using frames in the creation of your site.

Firstly, let me say, this is not a tutorial, but looks at the advantages and drawbacks, of both using frames and not using frames.

Lets start at the beginning. What is a Frame? Put into plain terms, it refers to the division of a web page into sections. You can divide it into two, or more, sections, if desired. Some sites may also use embedded frames ( frames within frames), which enables the designer to present a lot of information in a small area.

Now we will look at the benefits and and drawbacks of each in turn

A Framed Web Page

  • Navigation is easily accessible
  • Quick to load and Internal links load in frame
  • Visitor stays at site when external link is loaded
  • Not search engine friendly or compatible with all browsers

When you form a framed web page, it can be spilt into as many frames as you wish, horizontally, vertically, or a combination of both pages that do use frames tend to spilt into two frames. The designer then generally chooses one of these frames in which to place the navigation menu or buttons. This means that when a visitor scrolls down the page of the main frame, or clicks on a link, the navigation system will stay at eye level ( in view) the entire time. Therefore your site offers easy navigation. And ease of navigation is top priority when it comes to the design and layout of your site

After the initial loading of your web site, (some times a framed site can take longer to load than an un-framed site initially.) each time a link is clicked, it will load into the specified frame. This therefore enables quick download time, as only one frame has to load, as opposed to a whole page, with menu, graphics, etc. This can be of an advantage, keeping your logo, advertising and menu visible at all times.

External links that you have linked to can be opened into your main frame, and therefore, the visitor will not have to leave your site in order to view other web sites. This is a great way to keep visitors at your site for a longer period of time, and potentially gaining more customers. Keep in mind, that some web site owners are not keen on this method (there may even be legal issues involved), and may ask you to change your coding or remove their link. Many sites are not made to be viewed in some one else's frame, and therefore will cause a horizontal scroll bar as well as a vertical. This means in order for your visitor to view the page, they will not only have to scroll down but across as well

Many search engines cannot read the html code that is created when making a framed web page. They are only able to read your main page ( index.html). This causes faults in the loading of your site through a search a visitor performs. Often the main frame is the only one that will load, and some times only the menu frame will load. And many times your site will not show up in a search, as many search engines cannot index framed sites correctly, they are unable to read the code to perform the spidering ( fully indexing your site with their robots ), that is necessary to have a complete indexing of your site. This often leads the designer to create a doorway page into their site. This can be an advantage, however some search engines will not list your site if you use a doorway page, e.g. Yahoo

While most of the latest browsers do display framed pages, many of the older versions will not. While it is true that this only amounts to a small percentage of the population, their are still those that use older versions. This causes the site to either not load, or it will display the content incorrectly. This can cause problems for both you and your visitors, as you want your visitors and potential customers to have an enjoyable visit.
A Non-Framed Web page

  • You have a large space to work with
  • One page to load
  • Search engine friendly
  • Compatible with all browsers
  • Generally used by all professional web site designers
  • New page loads each time an internal link is clicked
  • Visitor leaves site when an external link is clicked, or another browser window is opened

The lay out of your pages is always an important factor in your page design. Using a non-framed page allows ample room for the layout, with many options available to you. Because of the large space, you can display a lot of information. Keep in mind however, that most front pages are generally around the 50Kb to 60 Kb mark, allowing for fast downloading time.

There is one page to load and therefore your visitor will get all of the most important information at one go. They will not have to wait for each frame to load individually.

Search engines will be able to index your entire page, and follow the links to index your other pages easily, therefore enabling easy access to your entire site. This is always a great factor to consider in the layout of your site.

A non-framed site is compatible with all browsers, old and new. Therefore your site will load correctly an all the information you provide will be viewed in the fashion it was intended to be. This is a very important factor to consider. You must be aware, however, that many people view web pages in different sizes, and most will be viewed in a 800 x 600 window, and then some will view it in 1024 x 768, depending on how they have their computer display properties set. You will need to be aware of this when you design your pages, and always work in the smaller display properties, and view it in the browser with both, to insure that they display correctly

Non- framed sites are generally the ones that are designed by a professional web designer. Mainly because a non-framed web site is considered professional in design and for the search engines. They want their clients sites to be accessible, after all that is the purpose of a site

One hindrance of a non-framed site, is the fact that each time a new internally linked page is displayed, it needs to reload the entire page, graphics, menu etc. However, if your pages are designed with a common theme throughout the pages, the graphics will be in your visitors cache, therefore reducing the download time

When an external link is clicked on however, the visitor will leave your site altogether. They will need to hit the back button on their browser in order to get back to you. This can be a problem if your intention is to keep your visitor at your site for as long as possible. The solution to this is to set the parameters for your web page for the external links to open in a new browser window, having your site underneath, therefore when they close the new window, your site is still available. This can cause problems with older browsers or slower computer systems. however, the advantage is the visitor has ready access to your site at all times.
So, in conclusion:

As a rule of thumb, Framed sites are more conducive to hobbies or information, and Non-framed site are better for commercial sites.

These are not hard and fast rules, although it will help you get started on your way and help you solidify a design layout for your future plans.

Don't be afraid to try both or to change your mind, experiment and find what works best for you!

About The Author
Written by Corinna and Leron Gittens-Arnold
Zalca, New Zealands Home Business and information site.
http://www.zalca.com - zalca@zalca.com

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