Thorntons launched a new website this week and Twitter was quick to point out a few issues, including one reminiscent of Marks & Spencer's migration fail of 2014.

Let's take a look at a few places where improvements could arguably be made, as well as some brighter spots.

All user accounts deleted?

Thorntons sent an email (below) to all customers, advising them to create a new account on the website.

'We've had to reset all Thorntons shopper accounts' implies that all account history has been deleted (in the crucial run up to Christmas).

This has potentially serious ramifications. How many people will abandon attempts to log in with old details? How many will re-register, but abandon checkout as they realise they have to re-enter payment details?

As Dan Barker pointed out on Twitter, "the workaround is usually to migrate the account history & make them reset pass using stored email address". That's what Marks & Spencer did with its relaunch two years ago, though it wasn't handled very elegantly.

One slightly strange note - I tried to log in on the website (despite not having a Thorntons account), just to see what messaging was shown. I was told to create a new account or checkout as a guest instead. No problem, I decided to continue as guest but I abandoned my basket before I had to enter my email address.

Later, to my surprise, I received an abandoned basket email, and can only assume the website managed to grab my email address from my failed login attempt. If so, that at least will go some way to mitigating the effect of the site migration.

Image via Mark Rofe

thorntons email

Problems with mobile redirect?

As Paul Randall points out below, the old m.Thorntons domain seemed not to be redirecting to the new responsive Thorntons.co.uk site.

Though this has been fixed, when I navigated to m.Thorntons.co.uk on my mobile, I did briefly see this message before the new site loaded.

Lack of delivery information

Twitter user @colmcq, apparently an existential cat, also pointed out a lack of delivery information in the checkout.

As you can see from the screenshot below, Thorntons fails to make it clear that perishable items containing alcohol have to travel by premium delivery.

That means the user is left confused as to how they can select standard delivery (which, in fact they can't). An explanatory message and the removal of the checkbox would fix this UX problem.

Thorntons did respond promptly (11 minutes) to @colmcq on Twitter to explain the delivery issue. So, kudos for social responsiveness.

Are there other UX improvements that could be made?

Misleading 'accordion filters'?

Category pages allow me to sort and refine the products on show, in this case chocolate boxes.

However, there are some misleading menu links on the left-hand side, which appear to be accordion filters at first glance. When I click the '+' icon expecting to see more options, another category page loads.

This isn't too much of a problem, once you get your bearings, but it took me a while to realise I couldn't actually filter chocolate boxes by chocolate type.

One way of improving this may be to get rid of these icons and just have a list of menu links. Nike offers a good example of this approach (see further below).

Will it affect conversion? I'm unsure.

Misleading 'accordion' icons?

thorntons

Nike clearly delineates filters and menus

nike category

Chocolate box product page imagery isn't as luscious as it could be

A lot of the imagery is great and every product image has automatic zoom when you roll over it.

However, given that chocolate boxes must be pretty popular, I think it's strange that only two images are provided here, and neither show the chocolates in any detail.

Even with the zoom, my mouth doesn't water like it does on other product pages.

Could there be some better close-ups on chocolate box product pages?

chocolate box

And on the bright side?

There's plenty to savour on the new website, and it should be benefitting from more traffic given Thorntons' nearly-£5m media push to relaunch the brand.

It's been nearly two weeks since Thorntons screened its first TV advert for seven years, and the ad (seen below) is featured on the new website.

Here are some other features I enjoyed on the site...

Improved information architecture

I much prefer the new, simplified header menu with only four options.

Each dropdown includes plenty of detail and there's no doubt as to where everything lives.

Thorntons menu, with 'gifts and occasions' dropdown shown

thorntons menu

Compare the old header, which feels a bit more confused at the top level.

thorntons old header

Search is impressive

I was given suggested products, categories and pages. Nicely done.

Search

search truffles

Guest checkout

Given that all accounts have been 'reset', it's great that there's a guest checkout option.

Many retailers forgo this option but it's something a lot of customers look for.

Mobile performance

As mentioned earlier, the Thorntons site is now responsive and the mobile experience is arguably slicker than the desktop (apart from slightly lightweight body font on some pages).

throntons mobile  thorntons mobile 

Clarity of shopping bag and checkout

I thought the shopping bag and checkout were easy to navigate (see a couple of screenshots below), including a very clear voucher field.

Yes, delivery price isn't shown until further down the funnel (and nearer payment), but there is a clear message indicating free delivery when you spend over £35.

Arguably, Thorntons could include a message detailing the standard £4 delivery earlier in the checkout.

Added to bag

add to bag

Checkout

thorntons checkout

More on Thorntons..

Ben Davis

Published 17 November, 2016 by Ben Davis @ Econsultancy

Ben Davis is Editor at Econsultancy. He lives in Manchester, England. You can contact him at ben.davis@econsultancy.com, follow at @herrhuld or connect via LinkedIn.

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Comments (6)

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Paul Randall

Paul Randall, Senior UX Architect at Evosite

On the chocolate scale, I'd call it a strawberry cream.

over 1 year ago

Ben Davis

Ben Davis, Editor at EconsultancyStaff

@Paul Chocolate is a minefield of subjectivity. Lots of people love a soft centre.

over 1 year ago

Pete Austin

Pete Austin, CINO at Fresh Relevance

"Later, to my surprise, I received an abandoned basket email, and can only assume the website managed to grab my email address from my failed login attempt. If so, that at least will go some way to mitigating the effect of the site migration."

Glad you approve. You'll have to ask Thorntons about the logon snafu but I can assure you that all Thorntons shopper accounts history has not been deleted.

over 1 year ago

Joe Hawkes

Joe Hawkes, Senior Digital Marketing Executive at Charles Russell Speechlys

It looks like Thorntons had a lot of challenges, but at least they've gone some way to addressing them all.

I feel like the benefits of this massively improved new site will outweigh the negatives, especially in the run-up to Christmas!

over 1 year ago

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Mike Bradley, Project Manager at Kanga Health

Sweet baby cheeses why launch in your busiest period of the year?? Maniacs.

over 1 year ago

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Will Rogers, Head of Digital Marketing at VocaLink

My thoughts exactly @Mike - brave move indeed

over 1 year ago

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