The other day, I received an email from a woman who put a QR code in her signature. I have to be honest: Up until that point, I'd never used a QR code before. They've always seemed — at least to me — more hassle than they were worth. Yes, I think they're cool — but I've never been one to see QR codes as, say, another legitimate language, or some other extreme paradigm shift in how we communicate.
Faced with yet another haphazardly patterned square, I decided to finally try it out. I downloaded a free QR code reader for my iPhone and scanned. The QR code took me to a website for the woman's place of employment. It made sense that she would link to this website. However, this website was not the least bit optimized for mobile. As far as I was concerned, she was better off just adding the regular URL.
Despite my lack of experience (before this one I'd only seen that video of the guy who got a QR code tattooed on his chest
), I agree with a lot of what Jay Baer has to say in his most recent blog post
about QR codes, the most important point being that QR codes should be used for information, not a destination. I think that was the fatal flaw in the woman's QR coded attempt to be technologically hip.
I'm not pretending to be some sort of QR code expert. And hey, maybe they will change the way we communicate. But in the meantime, I'd like to point out a few things I think might help QR codes along, especially for inexperienced skeptics such as myself. As far as I'm concerned, QR codes must:
Take you to a mobile-friendly site with relevant information. QR codes are for mobile phones. Why would you connect your code URL to a site that isn't optimized for mobile? Seems a little counterproductive, don't you think?
Be offered in situations where people have time to view the information. Waiting for their food or drinks in a restaurant or bar, in the doctor's office, at their desk...you get the idea: Recognize that scanning a QR code takes a little bit of time, and that once it's scanned, people won't read the information you linked to unless they have time to.
Must actually be scannable. It seems to me that QR codes should always be offered on flat, non-reflective surfaces that can at least be taken indoors if they aren't already there. What's the point otherwise? QR codes on billboards seem so ridiculous.
What else would you require of QR codes?