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Framesets - The Kiss of Death
What a usability nightmare!
pageoneresults




msg:661267
 6:19 pm on May 31, 2005 (gmt 0)

Here's the scenario...

Top client has an upgrade to their primary software which runs their brick and mortar business. We'll say they are moving from Version 2 to Version 3. Version 2 (web services) was Classic ASP with no framesets. Version 3 (web services) is ASP.NET within a framed environment.

Add to the framesets the use of popups and you have a recipe for disaster!

Go to the edit button on one of the framed pages and get...

Allow popups for this site?

Sure, I'll allow popups because I am familiar with the site. Great, I've now allowed popups. Go back and click the edit button and get the same message asking me to allow popups. Check my allowed sites and don't see the site that the popups are coming from which is the data being populated in the main frame from a third party database. The popup blocker is not recognizing the third party URI, just the URI of the frameset.

Since I am heavily involved with the development of the site, I know that the main frame is being populated by a third party database. The user has no clue that is happening. They keep allowing popups and get an endless loop of "Allow popups for this site" messages.

The above is just one of many issues the client and their users are now faced with. The developers of the software have pretty much told the client that it would cost too much to bust the site out of frames. There are multiple clients using the same feed format so it is easier for the developers to maintain one set of pages and then send them down the pipeline to the clients.

And, to make matters worse, we now have two sets of data to maintain. One for the framesets which are disallowed from indexing and then one for the static side which generates the data in a user friendly format for the visitor and search engines.

Want to kill your online business? Move into a framed environment and then force popups on your users. On top of that, tell your client that their users will now have to upgrade to the latest version of IE to view the site properly. :)

 

pageoneresults




msg:661268
 6:30 pm on May 31, 2005 (gmt 0)

It is confusing since Firefox shows the wrong URL. However, it's too cost prohibitive for us to change from using frames at this time. Our clients are currently set up using it and it would be a technical nightmare to have everyone change it.

Also, Mozilla is used by less than 1% of the internet users. Firefox has a small percentage too, although it is gaining popularity but I assume this popup issue will be fixed in their browser in future releases.

lol, my response to the above may not have been what they wanted to hear and/or see. :)

So, is this what programmers are doing these days? Developing applications that don't work in Firefox and require the latest version of IE?

Runs for cover...

GaryK




msg:661269
 6:51 pm on May 31, 2005 (gmt 0)

require the latest version of IE
With apologies for paraphrasing the Haggadah, why should today be different than any other day? ;)

Not to worry. Eventually enough business will be lost over this that the vendor will be forced to take his/her head out of the sand and transition to a more evolved format.

txbakers




msg:661270
 7:23 pm on May 31, 2005 (gmt 0)

oh yeah, that's a major disaster! Frames went away about 6 years ago in the real world.

I'd run away from that scenario.

iamlost




msg:661271
 10:44 pm on May 31, 2005 (gmt 0)

What it sounds like is:

Application CEO: hey guys we need to accomplish this and this and this in version n+1.

Application Programmer: Hey I just learned some neat stuff. If we do this-a-way and this-a-way and this-a-way it will be easy.

But no one bothered to do a problems analysis or a clients usage analysis (and likely no one bothered much with documentation either) or anything except a features wish list and everything is a big big surprise.

There are no software standards except the marketplace and that is late and brutal and often fatal.

I notice that the client apparently upgraded without thought of potential problems ... which came first, the chicken or the egg?

encyclo




msg:661272
 1:07 am on Jun 1, 2005 (gmt 0)

Support for Firefox is something you can argue over, but you can still get away (just) with IE6-only web applications at the moment. However pop-up blockers are much more prevalent than Firefox as they are now a standard feature in IE6 under Windows XP SP2. So I would consider any web application which requires pop-ups to be broken to the extent that you could claim before a court of law that the supplied goods are faulty.

Does the client need this "upgrade" at all to the new version? I think I would dial up the pressure on the supplier to fix their application. Using frames is enough of a headache (but just about manageable): pop-ups is quite another.

pageoneresults




msg:661273
 1:55 am on Jun 1, 2005 (gmt 0)

Not to worry. Eventually enough business will be lost over this that the vendor will be forced to take his/her head out of the sand and transition to a more evolved format.

Personally, I'm hoping one of their clients mentions the term lawsuit. This change has had a dramatic negative impact on visitor interaction with the site. Enough so that business is being lost and we're dealing with respectable sums of money, long term money. This is an environment that repeat visitors make up a large portion of monthly visitors.

I'd run away from that scenario.

Nope, I rarely run from anything. ;) And, this is one of my top clients that has been with me for years. We've been implementing solutions that work around the framesets in regards to generating user friendly content that can be printed, bookmarked and easily emailed to a friend. The developers have at least been providing us with a web service that allows us to pull data and format using the sites core design.

But no one bothered to do a problems analysis or a clients usage analysis.

Oh, I can concur with that! The client is left dealing with users who are sending in contact requests asking why they can't do this, or that? We figure for each request that comes in, there are 9 others that just went elsewhere. Ouch!

The developers are taking care of the issues after the fact but they are adamant about remaining in framesets. It would be cost prohibitive for them to do so. Yea right. I'm going to send them a link to this topic a year from now after showing them the decline in repeat visitors to the site.

I notice that the client apparently upgraded without thought of potential problems... which came first, the chicken or the egg?

Unfortunately they didn't have much of a choice. They were bulging at the seams in Version 2 and had to dump data every other day to allow new content additions. They have no major problems with their internal Version 3 of the software. It is the web services that are a problem.

Support for Firefox is something you can argue over.

No arguments there. As soon as I received the above email from them, I ran a quick report (last 90 days) for the sites based on browser version. The statistics showed that at least 8-10% of their visitors were using a Mozilla based browser (Firefox).

So I would consider any web application which requires pop-ups to be broken to the extent that you could claim before a court of law that the supplied goods are faulty.

lol! I wonder how that would stand up in a real court of law. Never mind, don't want to go there just yet. ;)

Does the client need this "upgrade" at all to the new version?

Yes, see above.

I think I would dial up the pressure on the supplier to fix their application. Using frames is enough of a headache (but just about manageable): pop-ups is quite another.

I've been applying pressure to the vendor. So much so that I've been blacklisted. ;)

The client is investigating further options at the moment. This topic will help bring to light the issues they are faced with and hopefully sway them to make the right choice.

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