Edinburgh Web Development

QR codes - does anyone care?

Marketing dead-end

by Iain Wilson

17 February 2014
QR codes

A couple of years back, QR codes were all the rage.  Advertisers were putting them on anything and everything.  But honestly, is there anything that is really worth doing with QR codes?

The theory is actually pretty good; stick a QR code on marketing materials and people will scan them in on their smartphone and be whisked off to an exciting webpage or video or whatever.  

This kind of works on printed materials, because there is obviously no electronic interface.  Typing in the web address on your smartphone is probably a little more work than scanning the QR code.  I get that, but if it's just a link to a webpage, then it's still kind of a lot of work to do for not much reward.

Best place I've seen that implemented is at bus stops.  Scan in the QR code from the stop and it takes you to a webpage that will tell you when the next bus is coming.  But is it quicker than getting your smartphone app to do the same thing?

Worst place I've seen QR codes is in train stations and billboards where people are on the move and there is no chance of someone getting their phone out to scan. 

The codes of course can hold more than just a web URL address and maybe that can provide more impressive uses.  I've seen QR codes that hold event information. Scanning them will put an entry in your electronic diary.  Or they can hold your contact info and scanning it in will enter it into someone's contact database.

Online though, QR codes just seem even more pointless.  Any webpage can provide links to other web resources with a click of the mouse or tap of the finger, so there is absolutely no value in replacing a weblink with a QR code.

So can anyone come up with a real killer use of QR codes?  I suspect not. 

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