With all of the excitement about Quick Response codes among print people these days ("See, we're still relevant in the Internet age!"), it's easy to forget that they aren't right for every occasion.
A colleague in the magazine industry relates this recent incident: A customer submitted a print ad with a QR code, which my friend subjected to the Paranoid Production Manager's 3 Tests for QR Codes. (FYI, all good production managers are paranoid.):
1) Is a URL shown with the QR Code? That might not be necessary in countries like Japan where using QR codes is second nature. But in less advanced countries with more primitive phone systems and many people who don't know what to do with two-dimensional barcodes -- like, say, the United States -- not including a Web address will hurt response. Check.
2) Is the QR code readable? There are some real horror stories about promotions containing QR codes that weren't readable. Check.
3) Does the QR code take you to a web page that is relevant to the ad? Just because the code is readable doesn't mean it directs readers to the correct web page. Designer have been known to make mistakes. Check.
But then my colleague spotted a problem: The promotion was for the sale of a product that has to be shipped to the buyer, which means the buyer has to enter credit-card or PayPal data, email address, and mailing address. That's way more typing than most people want to do on the typical smartphone. The client agreed that it should remove the QR code from the ad.
Moral: Don't use QR codes if the landing page is not optimal for mobile devices.
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