W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > w3c-wai-ig@w3.org > October to December 2001

Re: links to external conten t- maintaining navigation

From: Terry Brainerd Chadwick <tbchad@tbchad.com>
Date: Tue, 16 Oct 2001 10:13:01 -0700
Message-Id: <>
To: <mpodd@iqnetcom.com>, <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>

 >>>So how is this issue handled? How can you maintain navigation back to 
your site once the user has clicked on a link to external content? <<<
         People will get back to your site the way they have since the Web 
was invented.  They will use the back button/arrow or its equivalent.  In 
lynx, the left cursor arrow.

About maintaining a back frame at all: Don't do it, particularly not the 
way you have implemented it.  Why do you feel the need to control the way a 
person uses the web?

1.  There is nothing in your copy that says that those links go to external 
sites.  In fact, there is no way for a person know that they're not in your 
site anymore once they have used the link to go another site. It looks like 
you have simply copied the information to a file on your site -- that's 
what the location URL shows.

2.  The top frame is almost useless as a back button unless a person 
decides to run their cursor over it.  There is nothing that says it is a 
button that takes you "home" or back.  Personally, to get back to the page 
I was at before, I'd use my back button before running my cursor all over 
the page to see if you had hidden the navigation somewhere.

3.  I clicked on the health issues link on your home page (thankfully not 
framed) and then on the link on that page and went to a page where your top 
frame obscures the heading for the page (I'm using NS4.78).  All I see is 
poor design and I still have no idea that I'm not on your site. (Oops, I 
looked again and see that I'm still on your site.  But it looks no 
different to me than the way the link to the external page looked.  I 
checked the page on IE5.5, and the graphic tag doesn't overlap the heading, 
but the heading is no longer sized or bold.)

4.  By not clearly identifying that you are sending people to an external 
page, you are risking a lawsuit.   While it is very unlikely that a 
governmental agency will sue you, it's just bad policy to do this. If you 
are going to frame someone's page on your site, you should get permission 
and make it explicitly clear -- not just to people using screen readers -- 
that the page is on someone else's site.

5.  In Lynx, when I have right arrowed to the external content that I don't 
know is external content, all I see is a frame that says:
  1) Accessdome Navigation -- navigating where?  Where does it say that 
clicking one way or another will take me back a page?
  2) External Content -- what external content?  Where am I going to be if 
I follow that link?
Someone who clicks on the FCC link expects to go to the FCC content, not to 
two vague frame links.

6.  As sighted web user, I don't like frames and will open a new window if 
possible to get out of a framed environment that uses up valuable viewing 
space on my screen (particularly when I can't readily see the value of the 
frame).  I tried opening a new window and discovered that you locked me 
into your framed environment.  Which gets back to my original issue of 
control.  I leave sites that lock me into their preferred way of viewing, 
that trap me.  I won't add links from my resource pages to these kinds of 

7.  While it is true that some web users don't know how to use the back 
button, or history, or Go features of their browsers, people who use 
assistive devices to read the web have usually figured out how to navigate 
in poorly designed situations.  They probably know how to go back to your 
site.  In your site's case, where everything else is simple and clearly 
done, why add the additional frame that raises all of these issues?

Okay, I've ended my rant.

Terry Brainerd Chadwick, InfoQuest! Information Services
mailto:tbchad@tbchad.com  1-503-228-4023  http://www.tbchad.com
Accessibility isn't just the law; it's good business.
Optimizing Websites for Accessibility, Content, Search, & Usability

At 11:45 AM 10/16/2001 -0500, Michelle Podd wrote:
>Hello listers,
>I have a situation where, as a portal-type site, we want to link to many 
>external resources while maintaining a link back to us. I know that having 
>external pages load in a new window is out of the question and I know that 
>frames are to be used sparingly, if at all.
>We've set it up so that a link to an external page will load a page called 
>and click on one of the content links for an example). It contains a top 
>frame which holds a file that is a button back to our site and the bottom 
>frame loads the content of the external page. The frames are clearly 
>marked via the title attribute.
>The problem is that when frame.asp loads in Lynx, it gives you the option 
>to go to content frame but once you are in the external site, there is no 
>way back to our site.
>So how is this issue handled? How can you maintain navigation back to your 
>site once the user has clicked on a link to external content?
>Thanks in advance for your help,
>Michelle Podd
Received on Tuesday, 16 October 2001 13:12:35 UTC

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