Website Usability: Part 1 – The Disadvantages Of Using Frames

This post was written by Internet Marketing John on June 8, 2009
Posted Under: Website Usability

Website usability, has become an issue in the construction of web sites, and is based on the premise, that Internet access must be easily available to everyone, including the impaired and disabled.

In the United States alone; approximately 20 percent of the population is impaired in some way, or disabled.

Because the internet has become the primary medium for communications, social interactions, exchanges of information and conducting business; it has become necessary for everyone to have easy access to this information, especially individuals who are in some manner, impaired or disabled.

This is why website usability has become such an important issue in web development.

One of the ways website usability can be improved, is by the use of frames.

Developers ultimately aim to make their websites easier for everyone to use regardless of whether or not frames are used.

Frames are used to segregate the browser into easily manageable sections.  Each section is totally independent of all the others in the browser.

There are advantages, and disadvantages to using frames in developing a website.

In part 1, we briefly outline the disadvantages of using frames and how they can affect website usability.

General Usability:

Frames can confuse web surfers, because of the website’s structure.
Using multiple scroll bars can add to the confusion. In addition, the website contents may become inaccessible, should the web developer hide the scroll bars.

Printing Errors:

Framed web pages are sometimes very difficult to properly print. Web browsers tend to randomly select the frame that is sent to the printer.

When the reader tries to print the frame he selects, he may not get it.  The computer will select the frame that is the focus of the web page.

Download Times:

Website developers use frames to cut down the time it takes to download from their sites. This can be easily done if the contents are presented in the right manner.  Style sheets, images, and scripts should be cached.


Copyright and trademark infringement issues can be raised when using frames containing third party information.


Bookmarking problems can sometimes occur when frames are used.
The basic frame structure, deviates from the normally unified website structure, and can cause problems in website usability and bookmarking in particular.  The users can’t mark the specific frame they want to keep.

Search Engine Indexing:

Search engine robots, sometimes have problems, indexing framed sites.  The search engine spiders are drawn into what website developers call, the black hole page.  This is due to the frames paradox.

Frames can be used, provided the developer is aware of the disadvantages of using them.

Website usability for the surfers should not be compromised by using frames.

For more information to help with website usability, CLICK HERE.

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