actually... it's not better.... because it relies on tables for laying-out navigational links.
The example I provided (with it's missing elements... i know... i know... it was stripped-down for space considerations. sorry. but thanks for clarifying all of the ommitted/messy stuff nkaisare and spufi!)...
Anyway, that solution can have the background change as well.
Like I originally said... this is "very alterable".
(and does not rely on tables!)
As to mararies5's concern about how this doesn't change the right side of the page:
If you don't use Frames pages (and you really shouldn't), then you have the options of using iframes or putting this very compact and small menu on every page (which will always mean that it will require the creation of at least one less page than if you had used Frames in the first place).
Personally, I'd suggest placing the <style> in an external file, write specific <div> coordinates for the menu, and just place it on every page along with each page's unique content.
If you have ASP capabiltity, just stick it all in one include file and reference it with just one line on every page:
<!-- #include file="entireMenu.inc" -->
and any changes that need to be made to the menu and/or style (site-wide!) can be done from the single include file.
That's one opinion (and how I have been writing (and re-writing) my pages to-date).
okay... enough said on that ...