A little while ago I posted about How NOT to Build a Successful Website using Adobe Flash. Long story short, Adobe Flash websites are extremely unfriendly to both website visitors and businesses who own the websites. 1
The second worst way to create a website is to build it totally out of frames. There are several workers’ compensation defense firms who have websites built out of frames – and they’re terrible.
In the early days of the internet frames were an easy way to enable navigation throughout a website. Since then easy-to-use intelligent server-side languages2 and client-side languages3 have made building website navigation tools a breeze. More importantly, these other technologies and techniques do everything frames do – only better.
Here are some of the problems with websites created using frames:
- Un-bookmark-able. Just as with Adobe Flash, users can’t bookmark specific pages within a website built using frames. This means your website visitors can’t come back to visit that specific page and, more importantly, can’t send a meaningful link to their friends.
- Un-navigable. Depending on how someone links to your frame based website, its very possible that they will link directly to an internal frame. This means a website visitor getting to your website from a search engine might never see your website’s name or logo!
- Printing. Frame based websites don’t always interact properly with web browsers. When you go to print, you might end up printing the wrong frame. Make it easy for your clients to make a hard copy of the information they see on your website and don’t use frames.
- Search Engine Optimization. Search engines are designed to be smart. Even so, search engines still have trouble untangling a website made out of frames. If people cannot reach your website by searching for exactly what you’re about, your website is a failure.
I know why there some web developers sell frame-based websites. From a development standpoint, they’re very very easy to write. Frames are little more than HTML, so they’re if you can create a Word document, you can create an frames-based website. I suppose it would be relatively easy to also recyle parts of that website in a new website. These websites are also deceptively good-looking. When the web developer is showing you a frame based website, you’re going to see exactly what you expect. The “danger” of a frame-based website, as indicated above, is that its so easy for it to be shown to your potential clients in the wrong way or out of context.
I think I also know why businesses invest in frame-based websites. They require so little skill to create that a business can just have one of their file clerks or some high school kid build the website cheaply. The website would be, for all intents and purposes, free.
A website is essentially the 21st century equivalent of a resume. You’re using it to tell your clients about you before you ever get a chance to meet them. These days everyone considers Google to be a verb. If your potential clients are already looking for you through the internet, shouldn’t you try to put your best foot forward? A cheap temporary website is fine … as long as its temporary. As soon as you can afford to do so hire someone to put togther something better.
Website Development Tips:
- Never build a site out of frames.
- Other web technologies and techniques do everything frames do, only better.
- Think of your website as your business’s resume, since that’s what potential clients may see first.
- Think of your website like a business suit. If it doesn’t look good on a first impression, a potential client may never even speak to you.