Firstly, I feel I must point out that I am a follower of most "Web Conventions" ... this is to say I will knowingly chuck them out of the window to make the best site around, but where standards and "normal" sites are concerned I will follow web conventions. Secondly, I have never really gone out to break conventions of the web, I've just designed the best I can ... and sometimes this leads to the breaking of said conventions... and sometimes clients force you to break them.
When you access a website you do so with certain preconceived thoughts of how it may look and feel, you expect things to be in certain places ... layout is a convention most websites conform too. From having your navigation on the left or at the top to having a search bar in the top right ... not forgetting the logo in the top left!
Sometimes your thoughts are correct, at others they aren't ... either because a convention has been ignored or because the site just isn't what you wanted it to be. And lets be honest it should be what you want it to be you are the user! However, just because things aren't in the right place doesn't mean it's wrong or broken.
Take for example the recently launched Spirit Beauty website. Although we've played the rules with certain conventions such as the logo and search, we moved the main navigation to the top right, above the search. Next we looked at colours of the site, all other "salon sites" are dull and boring apparently, so we gave the site a fresh clean look with bright but almost muted colours. Moving into the pages you find the content on the left with a right-hand side bar... fairly normal, until you realise these aren't adverts they are a 3rd layer of navigation, your shopping cart or a link to another part of the site such as the Spirit Training Academy. Finally, we move to the footer, again against convention we have our logo to the right and the main navigation just right of this ... no underlines on any of our main navigation... just a slight change in colour and a change of cursor. (Visit the site and let me know what you think!)
So now your wondering why I am telling you about breaking conventions and why I feel that ignoring conventions can lead to a successful site*. Well it's simple, I want to make clear that following in conventions can be good for a site, but blindly following them can kill a website and make you look like every other site on the internet. Dare to Defy and Win.
*not all sites will see a success, it depends on your target market.
Want to see a further example of breaking convention? Hop over to my other site andykinsey.co.uk
Finally, just before I sign off this post I want to let you all know it's christmas ... and i'm very excited! However, this isn't my point... I want to let you all know that I've put together 73 Tips, a good number of which are already released to the public via @xmasseo on twitter ... however I want to urge you to visit the website Christmas SEO and take a look at how your site could improve in the run up to Christmas with the help of XMASSEO.