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Designers Corner

Before you decide to use frames on any part of your site, you should be aware that framed pages inspire loathing in many Web users. This isn't new—dislike of the technique was evident in 1996, when frames began popping up here and there on the Web. However, it was believed then (mostly by those Web designers who liked frames) that this irritation would go away as people got used to the technique. However, the dislike is still very much with us in 1999.

The chief advantage of frames, allowing one part of the screen to change its content in response to links in another part, seems to be outweighed by their drawbacks. A major problem is that the URL of a framed page (the URL appearing in the browser's address or location bar) is that of the highest level of the frameset. The URLs of the contained pages are not readily accessible to the user, if at all. This makes bookmarking a contained page extremely awkward. Furthermore, the frames make the Back button's behavior counterintuitive, and they plunge search engines into utter confusion. Even worse, saving a framed page is difficult and confusing for an unsophisticated user; simply clicking File, Save As in his browser saves the top-level frame, which is probably not the item he wants.


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