There are a lot of reasons to hate on the QR code.
They’re ugly. They’re hard to design around.
For some reason, in the city of Toronto, the vast majority of them that I’ve seen are located on our public transit system.
Underground. Where there is no internet.
And even when they’re scanned, they so often just direct the user to the company’s home page. If it is more work for me to get in to my QR scanner app and scan your QR code than it would be for me to type http://www.yourcompanyname.com, you are doing it wrong.
And why would I even want to go in to the trouble of arriving at your home page if I have to pinch and swipe and drag to zoom in to be able to read your content? Be a pal. Send your users to mobile-optimized content.
And no Flash.
QR codes are even cropping up in e-newsletters and as Facebook and twitter avatars. No. I’m not going to get my smartphone out and scan a screen. I’m looking at you, VEVO:
QR codes are meant to bring users from print media to online content. If I’m already online, just use a hyperlink. It does the trick.
Now even though many QR codes are awkward to scan and take me somewhere I’m not keen on going, I don’t hate them.
I have seen a few (very few) examples where I saw real potential in QR codes being awesome.
One (sigh, yes I saw it on the subway) was to promote an upcoming book. Scan the QR code for the first chapter. Brilliant! It’s not just going to take me to a homepage. It’s going to give me free content. A teaser. It’s subscribing to the wonderful idea that you give something for free to entice purchases. And text is something I can consume on the go, perfectly suited to my little screen. Pretty forward thinking.
I saw one on the back of a wine bottle and got excited. Ok, it actually took me straight to their non-mobile-optimized homepage. But what I hoped it would bring me to was a recipe to make and pair with the wine. Or a recipe that uses the wine. Mobile-optimized, of course. I mean could you see Food & Drink and the LCBO/VQA getting in on that?
The brilliant folks over at Small Change Fund have QR codes on their business cards, which take you to a YouTube video explaining the organization and its mandate.
What I don’t see enough of (and am frankly surprised) are big, simple posters with a clear QR code that directs users to an awesome, mobile-optimized, secure donation page (to be fair, mobile donations in Canada are lagging far behind our European buddies).
Now, part of the intrigue of the QR code I believe is its novelty. And if augmented reality is taking off as fast as it seems to be, QR codes will likely be left by the wayside. But until then, QR codes are a free way to get users and customers to your online content.
Just please. Make the content worth the scan.
And before you incorporate QR codes in to anything, scan this:
Jokes! Click here instead. Much easier.