Why Frames Are Not Supported at MIT
Frames divide a page into
separate scrollable windows for viewing multiple pages
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
the Web Communications Services group strongly recommends you do not use frames.
Why do people use frames?
- Each frame can load information independent of the other frames on the
- A long document can scroll in a window
- Elements you want to remain constant, such as table of
contents, menu/navigators, and title graphics can be placed in a static,
individual frame that is always displayed
- Seemingly snazzy pages, increased design complexity.
Reasons NOT to use frames
- Indexing programs (search engines) do not index the content of
- Bookmarks don't work as you'd expect; you can bookmark the
top-level (frameset) page, but not necessarily what's displayed on
- Frames don't usually print the way the
- Frames are harder to code; take a look at frames syntax.
- 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.
- Many browsers can't deal with frames
- As the small screen splits into even smaller nested panes, the
text gets more and more unreadable.
- It can be difficult for the user to navigate through frames,
often the screens are very "busy"
- 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.
- 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
- The less scrolling windows, the better readability
- Keep your layout clutter-free. Try not to create a frame around
every element on your page. We've all seen pages that have a header
window, a footer window, a main window and even side windows at times,
all with loud background graphics that don't match up when you start
scrolling. Using one or two background colors, or a neutral background graphic, seems to be the least annoying
- Consider avoiding frames entirely. The best layout for the page may not need a frame at all.
$Date: 2003/01/03 20:53:50 $