People have a problem finding your URL. You post a QR Code. Now they have 2 problems. Or more:
- They see a chunk of robot barf on your poster, and have to realise it isn't a crossword puzzle, but a QR code.
- They need to take a digital photograph of it with their phone. If they have a laptop, even with a camera, this requires physical contortions
- They need an application on their phone that can make sense of a QR code.
- They need a lot of patience as they fiddle with it.
- They need a working network connection to resolve it.
Conversely, with a URL they could type it in, take a photograph of it and type it in later, or if they have the right app, it will recognise the URL text from the image and make it clickable.
That is the irony of this. QR Codes ignore years of research and culture on how to communicate meaning in symbolic form designed to be captured by image processing tools behind a lens. We have this technology. It is called writing.
Written language has a set of symbols that are relatively unambiguous, that are formed of curves rather than hard edges making them resilient to noise, and have been market-tested for milennia. QR Codes don't just ignore this, they ignore the relative success of one dimensional barcodes. Notice something about a barcode? It has the number printed on it as well, so you can type it in if the scan fails. QR Codes don't do this, so it's far too easy to put the wrong one in, or fail to replace a mockup. Which is why so many QR codes link to Justin's site instead.
The only place you should use QR codes is if you have a dedicated reader for them, like a classic barcode scanner, and a workflow that is designed for this that actually saves time. If you do empirical research on using QR codes for the public, you'll likely see 80% worse performance than text like this museum did. By all means try the experiment and report your results. Put up a QR code and a printed URL and see which gets the most usage.
Or listen to others:
a majority of our respondents knew more or less what they were for, very few (n=2, or around 7%) were successfully able to use QR codes to resolve a URL, even when coached by a knowledgeable researcher.[..] A strong theme that emerged — which we certainly found entirely unsurprising, but which ought to give genuine pause to the cleverer sort of marketers — is that, even where respondents displayed sufficient awareness and understanding of QR codes to make use of them, virtually no one expressed any interest in actually doing so.
Is it really faster and better to use a QR code that will direct you to part of a marketing campaign rather than getting a broader sweep of information by simply using the browser that you already use all the time on your phone? In the instant cost-benefit analysis I do every time I see a QR code, it has yet to make sense for me to fire up the decoder app I have installed on my phone.
QR code at the bus stop to get time of next bus. Really useful in the dark. Not. yfrog.com/mgicpqj— Martin Geddes (@martingeddes) January 27, 2012