I have to admit I was skeptical of the usefulness of QR codes. My doubts were confirmed, or so it seemed, when Google dumped the QR code generator from their Places platform without further explanation. At that point I assumed QR codes were dead in the water, so I ignored them. I didn’t even take the time to try to figure out how they worked.
I’ve changed my mind about QR codes.
I’m not saying they’re the best way to link print to the web, but I now see QR codes in a whole new light. Why? It’s all about the increased adoption of this technology by consumers. Yeah, the whole QR code concept is a little weird and the process of scanning bar codes with a smartphone or tablet camera does take some getting used to, but people have definitely started using QR codes. They appear to be the best way (at this point) that you can access content on the web and learn more about a business and its products and services directly from the vendor, while you are on the go.
Here at the shop, client requests for QR codes on print materials (especially business cards and flyers) have increased exponentially. As more people embrace the technology, it becomes more valuable. Given their increasing popularity and usefulness, QR codes may be worth a second look by you or your marketing department.
The image to the right shows a sample QR code. (This one is linked to the homepage of our site.) You’ve probably seen these little black & white bar code squares on business cards, in magazines and newspapers, on window signs, and elsewhere. If not, you will. Trust me. The little squares act just like links you’d find on the internet. But you “click” on a QR code by scanning it with a QR code scanner on your mobile device. If your smartphone or tablet doesn’t have a code scanner, you can download one for free from the Apple App Store or the Android Market. These scanners use the camera in your device to “read” the code and once that happens your web browser opens and takes you to the page which is linked to the code. QR codes are easy to create. (They’re also free.) It’s easy to incorporate them into print materials and direct people to specific landing pages. This, along with their growing popularity, makes them an important link between the offline and online world.
But before you start printing QR codes everywhere, think about how to best take advantage of the technology. Since mobile users are the main target of QR codes, the page the user is directed to should be very mobile-friendly. This is really important. If your business website is constructed using responsive design principles, you’re probably fine directing visitors to any of your pages. If it is not, be careful. You should never direct mobile visitors to a page which is difficult for them to read or navigate on their smaller screens. And, you should always make sure the content you deliver is highly relevant to the placement of the code. Your visitors clicked for a reason. So reward them with what they wanted to see.
Anyway, I’m glad I took the time to learn more about QR codes and that they are being adopted by the mobile public on a much larger scale. It’s nice to be able to answer client questions and help them incorporate QR codes properly into their marketing materials.
What do you think about QR codes? Will they enjoy some staying power or will they be quickly supplanted by some other technology?