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Build Your Web Site Without Frames

If you wish to effectively promote your Web site in search engines and in directory sites, then you must not use "frames" in your Web site. Although many Web site developers think it looks attractive and hip to use frames, if you use frames you'll have immense difficulties promoting your Web site. You did build your Web site so that lots of people would view your Web pages, didn't you?

Contents of this Web page:

How Do You Know if Your Web Site Uses Frames?

If you are not sure how your Web site developer developed your Web pages, here are a couple of ways you can ascertain this:

  • Look at the Web address of your Web pages:  a) Watch the Location bar (in Internet Explorer, it's called the Address bar).  This is the area where you can manually enter a Web address (or "URL").  b) Now click on some links in your Web site. If the address changes, then your Web site is probably not using frames. Good.  Here are some examples of changing Web pages:

    Notice above that each Web page has a different name (e.g., "services.html")

    However, if the Web address never changes, then your Web site is unfortunately probably using frames. Here is an example of a Web address which might not change:

  • Look for a reference to "frames" in your Web page HTML:  a) While in your Web browser, click on View / Page Source (or with IE, it's typically View / Source). b) Now, look for a reference to "frame" (e.g., "frameBorder" or "frameSpacing") in your HTML.

  • Ask your Web site developer

The Major Promotion Problems with Using Frames

  1. Web directories cannot point to specific Web pages:  There are two kinds of Web directories: general Web directories which contain information on lots of topics, such as Yahoo or Open Directory, and infertility Web directories, such as Infertility Resources. If a Web directory wishes to point to one of the Web pages on your site, the Web directory will have difficulty doing this if you cannot supply a specific URL (Web address), such as:

    Unless you can supply a separate set of Web pages, then the only page the directory can point to, is your main framed page, such as:
    However, a Web directory will want to point to the specific page, not your home page.

    NOTE: It is possible for a Web directory to point directly to one of your sub pages in a framed site, however, there are at least a couple of problems with this: a) The person creating the link to your site has to read the HTML in your Web pages to find the page, and b) the specific Web page will be missing your framed elements, such as a top bar, navigation bar, and bottom bar.  This means that the page will lose the attractiveness of a fully framed page and the user will typically not find a way to access your other Web pages (which might contain information about your organization, a service or product list, or contact information).

  2. Search engines have trouble following the links in framed Web sites: Search engines send out robots which typically do the following: a) travel to the home page of a Web sites and index that page, b) then follow any hypertext links on the site to other pages and index those pages, c) return to the search engine server with the indexed information. The problem with frames is that search engine robots have trouble following links on framed sites. Search engines also have the same problem as Web directories.  That is, it is difficult for them to index and point to a specific Web page on your site. This is a major problem.

  3. Usability problems: There are also many usability problems (which can lead to promotion problems) created with frames. For an older, yet still mostly relevant article, feel free to review Jakob Nielsen's Why Frames Suck (Most of the Time).

Alternatives to Using Frames

The best alternative to using frames is to build your Web site using tables.  Tables allow your Web pages to be stucturally designed with, for example, the following consistent components:

  • a bar across the top which contains possibly your logo

  • a navigation bar which contains organized links to important pages in your Web site

  • a bottom bar which might contain your copyright information

Although you will lose the ability to maintain the ability to have a frozen pane in the web page, that is a very small price to pay to increase the promotion ability of your Web pages. Also, frozen panes are often annoying because the typically take up too much valuable page real estate or are hard to understand.

If you have any questions about how to use tables in place of frames, feel free to contact IHR.

Changing a Web Site After it is Built in Frames

It is not that difficult to change a Web pages from a framed-pages to table-based pages. Basically, you or your Web site developer can do the following:

  1. Create a template Web page using tables.

  2. Add the contents from a framed page, into the table-based template.

  3. Try to keep the Web page names the same between the framed pages and the table-based pages.

  4. Upload and test the new table-based site to the server.

  5. Register your new pages in search engines and submit specific educational pages to Web directories (e.g., Infertility Resources).

If your Web site developer says it is very difficult, feel free to contact IHR for some assistance.


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