Why Frames Are Not Supported at MIT

Frames divide a page into separate scrollable windows for viewing multiple pages simultaneously.

MIT web pages, as distinct from personal web pages, communicate mission-critical information to the largest targeted audience possible. The use of frames *reduces* the audience for MIT information; until the frames feature is better implemented by WWW browsers, the Web Communications Services group strongly recommends you do not use frames.

Why do people use frames?

Reasons NOT to use frames

  1. Indexing programs (search engines) do not index the content of frames well
  2. Bookmarks don't work as you'd expect; you can bookmark the top-level (frameset) page, but not necessarily what's displayed on your screen.
  3. Frames don't usually print the way the screens look.
  4. Frames are harder to code; take a look at frames syntax.
  5. Frames are hard to maintain; it's hard to keep track of the files and what happens when. For instance, the number of files for each frames page is the number of windows+frameset page (usually 3-4 pages), not counting a possible text-only version of your site.
  6. Many browsers can't deal with frames
  7. As the small screen splits into even smaller nested panes, the text gets more and more unreadable.
  8. It can be difficult for the user to navigate through frames, often the screens are very "busy"
  9. Frames can be coded to open a new, external window. This choice should be up to the user. Remember that most systems take quite a while to open a new window, and some people find gratuitous new windows annoying.
  10. If you want to check the "source code" of a frame, you have to open at least 2 documents

Alternative to frames: tables

In every instance when you would use frames, tables can be used to display information in a similar layout. File management becomes much easier, and the audience for the information is increased.

Tips if you do use frames

Suggested Reading

mit Comments to MIT Webmasters
$Date: 2003/01/03 20:53:50 $