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What Are Frames?

Frames are very different from tables, although at first glance they might seem similar because frames can make it appear as if there are columns on the web page. Frames are tricky and have to be done thoughtfully and correctly—you will need to study your manual. Many people dislike frames on a web page because they can cause confusion, they can limit how accessible your site is to search engines, and if not created well they look junky. All we want to do right now is teach you to recognize a frame when you see one.

A frame is a stationary part of a web page that stays put while you scroll through another part (that other part is also a frame). You can tell if there is a frame on a page by scrolling: anything you see that does not scroll along is another frame.

You can spot most frames by their borders, which might or might not include a scroll bar. It is possible to make borderless frames, though. Whether it has a border or not, if part of the page stays still while you scroll another part, the page is in frames.

Each frame is actually a separate web page. When you see a page with three or four frames, that is actually three or four web pages all squished into one frameset. That’s why it might be confusing when you hit the Back button—sometimes you just go back through another page within that frame, not all the way back to what you thought was the last real page you saw.

A thoughtfully created frameset can be very nice. It’s often used to keep navigation buttons along the left or right side of a page, or a banner across the top. With a frame to hold buttons, the visitor can browse the entire web site and always have those buttons or that banner accessible.

As you wander around the web, keep your eyes open for frames. Notice whether they clutter the page and confuse the navigation, or provide a good anchor point for browsing the site. Put into words what you like or dislike when you find a frameset, and use your discoveries as guidelines if you ever decide to create frames on your own site.

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