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Why avoid Frames and Flash?


I had read and heard some time earlier that frames were instant death if you intended to be found by search engines (but I have since found out there are ways of using them that are not so bad). This is an old article on the subject (but a good one) and as far as I can tell things have not changed that much.
If you're in doubt about whether a particular page or site (ie. your own) uses frames, some of the tell-tale signs are:
*    The top and bottom of the screen are divided by a line (thus framing sections of the browser) and the top half stays visible while the bottom scrolls. (This is handy, and why psome eople use frames, but it's about the only advantage - as far as I can tell);
*    The URL (or URI or address) of the website does not change as you move from page to page. (The 'advantage' of this is that when people bookmark a page in your website they only ever bookmark the one visible web address - your home page. The problem is - this is also the only page search engines see (usually)).
*    When you look at the source code displayed within the browser (Internet Explorer = "View, Source"; Mozilla / Netscape = "View, Page Source") it looks something like the following. Most search engine robots see something much the same.
  <title>Some Title</title>
  <frameset rows="199, 65%" cols="1*">
  <frame name="header" src="home.html">
  <frame name="main" src="foo.html">
      <p>You need a browser that supports frame to veiw this page.</p>
*    The other noticeable characteristic of a web site built with frames is that it does not appear in search engine results pages, or is way, way down with some obscure page that someone has decided to link in on (usually without the frame).
       This is because, as mentioned, the search engine robot, the thing that finds and stores your web pages and compares what's on them to the words that people search for, doesn't see very much - just "You need a browser that supports frame to veiw this page". Handy if someone's mistyped "view sports", but not much else.
Even without all these drawbacks, as a surfer, I don't like frames, so as a webmaster, I don't create them.
(As an aside: another reason why webmasters use frames is to insert / embed someone else's website within their own. I'm not sure why people do this, I guess it's in the hope that surfers think that the content from the other business' site is their own? Also, I've read that you can boost your chances of being found in search engines by making the robots think the words it finds are yours. If that's so then you'd have to regard it as theft, or plaguerism at best. This is why you'll sometimes see disclaimers like "You are free to link to this site but you must not use frames")

Flash is cool but...

Macromedia's Flash is in a totally different class to frames - it's almost insulting to place critiques of them on the same page. Also, my reasons for not using flash are quite different to those for avoiding frames.
I like flash and sometimes I'd like to get my teeth into the creative, artistic (& fun) process and use it.
But, I made a business decision that I did not want to use it, at least not in the beginning. My reasoning being:
*  my own investment (money and learning time); and
*  page load speeds on modems.
Despite the take up of broadband, I expected many of my customers to be small businesses with limited budgets. In turn, I expected that many of their customers would have dial-up internet access only.
I have a fundamental philosophy, based on my experience, that if a page takes too long to load, your prospect simply closes it and moves on. You can afford this if you already have the market, because people are prepared to wait, but not if you are a Small to Medium-size Enterprise (SME) or Small Office / Home Office (SOHO) struggling to get a foot hold in the market.
[Content of this page last reviewed: 12-Jun-2004]
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