Web page frames are like separate panes within a browser window.

A master frames page contains the frameset layout information for two or more HTML pages that are displayed by the browser as if they were a single page. The images below represent some possible layouts and uses for frames pages.

This frames layout has a column on the left that would have hyperlinks to change the content of the main frame.

This frames layout has a heading in the top frame that would have hyperlinks to change the content of the main frame. The footer frame remains constant.

This frames layout has a banner in a static heading frame. The column on the left would have hyperlinks to change the content of the main frame.

In these examples the separate panes are visible and may even have scroll bars or be resizable, but the frames page can be designed so that the frames appear to be one page without borders.

To make the correct page appear in the right place requires careful attention to how the code is written. A target attribute has to be added to each hyperlink URL specifying which frame in the set the page should appear in. This can make web pages over complicated, not forgetting that some older browser versions do not support frames pages.

Alternatives

It is best to avoid frames; there are better ways of designing web sites. A similar layout can be achieved with a table or a layout using positioning controlled by Cascading Style Sheets and putting identical elements in the same place on each page.

Search Engine Considerations

Frames can also cause problems with search engines. A visitor to your site could follow a link from a search engine to a content frame HTML page of your site, but if the navigation links were in a different frames HTML page (like the first example above) they would not be able to navigate your site. If you prevented your content pages from being indexed by search engines, for example by using the robots meta tag, you would drastically reduce the opportunity for people to find your site through search engines.