[thelist] Frames versus CSS/DHTML

Ben Henick persist1 at io.com
Thu Feb 14 19:10:01 CST 2002

On Thu, 14 Feb 2002 Anello958 at aol.com wrote:

> Hey Evolters:
> Would appreciate a bit of input on this one.  I am currently designing
> a  B to B site for a client whose basic (and firm) requirements are
> this.
> 1.  96 percent of target audience uses Netscape 4.0 or higher or IE
> 4.0 or higher. Main site will be designed for this audience.  Alternate
> content will be delivered to others.
> 2.  First level navigation must remain static at all times.  Second
> level navigation will remain static within a given section.  Third level
> on down will change as necessary.  Content will change as necessary. The
> site would kind of have the look and feel of a CBT lesson.
> However, I am wondering if the same thing could not be accomplished
> using CSS/DHTML?  Since the target audience is so high in browsers that
> support this to some extent or another, it seems to me that it would
> make more sense and be easier (in the long run) to code and maintain.

Right on all counts.  The main challenges are:

a.  Deciding how that third level of links is going to be served.  Are you
going to use the same script in all circumstances, or are you going to
deliver a third script by parsing the URL and including a reference to an
external file based on that?  Or perhaps use a hidden IFRAME (which,
admittedly won't work in Netscape 4)?

At some point you will have the parse the URL of the page being served; it
simply depends on whether you're doing it server-side, client-side, or

> However, I just can't seem to get my arms around this whole thing and
> come up with a plan for execution that covers all the bases using

It would be easier to provide some sample code if there were some
comps/storyboards to look at...

> The obvious negative issues with either approach are user orientation
> within the site, search engine indexing, bookmarking, etc.  I have
> workarounds for all of these issues.

1.  As long as you're consistent in presentation - and that presentation
works in two dimensions so as to give a genuine sense of location -  user
orientation won't be a problem.  If worst comes to worst, you can use a
breadcrumb trail as a secodnary wayfinding modality.

2.  If you make sitemap at or near the top level of the site that links to
*everything*, search engine spiders will manage quite well.

3.  Bookmarking will be straightforward once you dump frames altogether.

> Would appreciate any input from members.

See note about comps/storyboards above...

Ben Henick
Web Author At-Large              Managing Editor
http://www.io.com/persist1/      http://www.digital-web.com/
persist1 at io.com                  bmh at digital-web.com
"Are you pondering what I'm pondering, Pinky?"
"I think so, Brain, but... (snort) no, no, it's too stupid."
"We will disguise ourselves as a cow."
"Oh!" (giggles) "That was it exactly!"

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