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Bad Examples of QR Code Usage

December 5th, 2011 · 3 Comments · Technology

qrcode How NOT to Use QR Codes

I spoke at a conference this weekend and everyone was QR Code Happy. They were everywhere, like a bible at a Southern Baptist Convention.  The passion with which people were proselytizing their uses missed all the ways that they are implemented poorly. Used well, QR codes add value, delight, and surprise your customer. Used QR Codes poorly and your customers will wonder why they are even there. Here are just a few ways I have seen QR codes used this weekend that did not make sense.

1) In your email address to link to your web site
I am on my computer and don’t want to get out my phone only to find out that QR code goes to your non-mobile friendly web site. Wouldn’t it have been easier for me to click on a link to your web site in your email signature?

2) Not telling people what they get when they scan your QR code
I saw this on a banner in an Exhibit Hall.  The QR code when to their web site that was not mobile friendly. What was I supposed to do with that on my phone and why would I want to get my phone out, launch my scanner just to get a web site?

3) Pointing to a Facebook Page
You want to make sure you are going to give me something worth my time of scanning a code, something that would be hard to get otherwise. If I can type in a web address quicker, I don’t want a code.  You can already shorten Facebook addresses so if you give me: I can just type  do I really want a QR code if I can type it in faster?

4) Where I Don’t Have Cell Service
I have seen QR codes on planes and train stations where there is no cell service. This only desensitizes people to the codes and they will become less interested in them. Sure, I can take a photo of the code and scan it later but is that really going to happen?  It will if you tell me what the content is and that content is of value. For example, in a magazine that offers me a coupon. If it is just information what wouldn’t I just take a picture of the ad?

5) On a Brochure
I have seen them on brochures where they link to a non-mobile web site for the organization. How is that useful? Why not link to a mobile sign-up page to either sign-up for the class or sign-up to get a newsletter or email about the class.

Marketers need to think about where the user will be when they see that QR code, how to add value and wow them, and make it easier for the customer to do business with them. Putting QR codes on everything without thought will only desensitize your customer and teach them to ignore them.

What bad examples have you seen? Start collecting bad examples on your own and we can all combat this horrible trend. Have you seen creative uses of QR codes?



  • Simon

    A common one I am seeing is marketers not making them big enough to scan when they place them in the newspaper ads and other marketing materials as well.A QR code needs to be at least 1.5cmx1.5cm to scan correctly larger is betternSimon from

  • Curt

    Jennifer, what are some GOOD ways a camp can/should use QR codes?

  • @8df2963d1ee56c2ed66a0050b097c9b1:disqus – Good uses of QR codes need to fit your overall strategy and delight your customer. For camps I might have a QR code on a page of a brochure to a quick mobile video, a coupon, or a quick signup page. Camp registration pages are way too long. How delightful to find a short page.