Using QR codes effectively

Posted in: Archive

QR codes are increasingly in use around campus and, regardless of opinions of whether they are actually useful or not, there are still some best practices to follow to get the best results:

  • legibility
  • suitability of destination
  • statistics tracking

Legibility

You have to remember the practicalities of QR codes - it's no use putting them on a billboard in the middle of a train route - no-one can get out their phone, load the scanning app and get a decent picture in anything less than ~10 seconds. Similarly, it's no use putting them on a poster which is too high, or on the bottom of a poster which is stuck at ground level. In the same vein you need to maximise the number of people who can scan the code correctly - don't play with the colours! It's black on white or nothing.

Destination

You might have the best, most whizzy, dynamically updating, image scrolling, pop-uppy website in the world, which all your users tell you they love, but it'll probably suck on a mobile phone. You don't need to test on a thousand different phones, but having a good idea of the capabilities of the devices that your target audience has will help you keep it simple and deliver a good experience once they've scanned your code. They'll love you for it.

Statistics tracking

If your QR code goes straight to a target page without going through an intermediary, you will have no idea whether your campaign has been successful or not. Lots of URL-shortening tools will also give you statistics on the number of visitors, when they came etc. - using one will also keep your QR code simple, and be easier to scan. The other part of this is authenticity - if you are publishing a QR code and the user has an expectation of where it will take them, then why are you sending them to a bit.ly address? Far better would be to either run your own in-house URL shortener, or create a simple PHP file which exists on your domain and is just used to increment a counter and redirect people to the full URL. The latter won't give you detailed statistics, but it'll be far better than nothing.

Have you got any more advice for anyone wanting to use QR codes? Let us know in the comments!

Posted in: Archive