A structure that allows for the dividing of a Web page into two or more independent parts.
Frames are often used to keep one or more parts of a Web page static while another part of the page is scrolled or loaded. Benefits can include faster page loading and the ability to keep a navigation bar present on the visible part of the page.
Most modern Web browsers support frames. Although browser support is rarely a problem, frames can present some other challenges that Web designers should be aware of:
Frames can bury many distinct pages under one URL, essentially breaking the URL structure. Site visitors may have problems bookmarking pages they want. The lack of direct entry to particular pages may also discourage linking from other Web sites and passalongs via email.
Frames can also present a dilemma in terms of optimizing a site for search engines. One workaround has been to use the <NOFRAMES> tag for search engine readable content. The <NOFRAMES> tag is used to display content to Web browsers that do not support frames. There are other workarounds to common frames-related problems, but they can be more time-consuming than their unframed alternatives. As always, evaluate whether the benefits exceed the costs.
see also: Web Design Tools
htmlhelp.com : Design : Frames
Guide to frames usage.
Tackling the Frames Dilemma
ClickZ (July 12, 2000)
Aren’t Frames Bad?
gooddocuments.com (October 3, 1998)
Why Frames Suck (Most of the Time)
useit.com : Alertbox (December 1996)