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HTML frames

Frames are a controversial part of the Web, some people like 'em and too many hate 'em. As you surf you'll see notes on pages that proudly proclaim "This site is Frame-Free!" and similar. Personally I think Frames are good - when used intelligently. In this section I'll try to relate my own feelings about Frames and hopefully help you decide where and how best to use them. To learn how to create and use Frames in WebExpress, click here.


Use Frames Or Not?

    Yes, I think so. But you have to be the ultimate judge as to whether Frames would benefit your site or not. Frames are very valuable when used as menu/content dividers, for advertising banners, and to organize other page elements.

    The important thing here is that sites that use Frames need to be well planned. Care should be taken to ensure that visitors with various browsers, using various system settings, can still view your site and not be insulted by it!

Links To Other Sites From A Frame Page:

    This is the major gripe most people have about Frame sites - and rightly so. If care isn't taken when adding links to sites outside of your Frame site, the outside site is loaded into a visitor's browser inside of your Frames. The effect can get pretty funny if you click on hyperlinks to several sites in sequence, all of which use Frames. If their respective Webmasters have neglected to link to the outside world properly, you end up three or four Frames deep and can't see a thing!

    What bothers people even more is that when one site is displayed within another site's Frame, they can't access the URL of the inner site in order to bookmark it or write it down.

    Solving this problem is quite easy, however: when you add a hyperlink to a site outside of your own, be sure to use the HTML "TARGET" modifier within your hyperlink directive. For example, if the directive...

      <A HREF="">Link Text</A> issued from a Frame, that hyperlink will cause the new site will be loaded into the current site's existing Frame. That's because the TARGET modifier is used to indicate into which Frame a page should be loaded, if any. Since no modifier was used in the above hyperlink, the default value for TARGET is "SELF", which means load it into the current Frame, if any.

    To make sure that a page is loaded into a fresh browser window, just add the TARGET modifier to the hyperlink with a value of "_TOP" - as shown below:

      <A HREF="" TARGET="_TOP">Link Text</A>

    This will 'tell' the browser how to display the new site.

    Many editors (WebExpress, for instance) make this very simple by providing a TARGET option that you select when you add the hyperlink. If you use Frames, be kind to your visitors and be sure outside links really go outside!

Frames That Contain Menus:

    One of the better uses for Frames, these menus remain on the visitor's screen in their own Frame to the side, top, or bottom of a larger Frame window that shows the actual pages linked to the menu. When you use Frame menus you might consider the following:

    • Try to keep the menu within the size of its Frame so that scrolling the menu isn't necessary.

    • If you have long pages to display that will cause the visitor to scroll a lot in the main Frame, try to make your menu Frame resizable, so that while reading the visitor can simply hide the menu to see more of the main page at once.

Frame Dos & Don'ts To Consider:

  • Do make sure that you test your Frames as carefully with browsers that support them as you would your tables.

  • Don't make your main Frame so small that visitors using low screen resolutions see only a tiny box!
  • Do think about offering visitors an alternative, non-Frame version of your site. It means extra work, but for now there are a lot people just plain against Frames!
  • Don't overdo Frames that contain banner ads. If you must use them, make them unobtrusive, yet prominent (yeah!).

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