It was only a few years ago that QR codes burst onto the scene as the new cool piece of technology to use and with this rise we started to see them crop up in many marketing and advertising campaigns around the world.
I must admit that when I first discovered the QR code around 4 years ago I experimented with using them in my work. At the time I was interested to see just how many people would actually use it and if they could be beneficial moving forward.
It became pretty evident early on that the QR code wasn’t quite taking off in the way some people imagined it might. A lot of designers began to mock them and I would have been surprised if the majority of people actually understood what they were for. Surprisingly research suggests that QR codes have maintained a steady popularity and although not to the numbers some may have predicted they are being used on a regular basis.
To be fair it isn’t hard to understand my reservations, I remember seeing some pretty bad examples of QR codes being used that made me question their overall use. This includes receiving one in an email campaign, which unfortunately I viewed on my phone, which happens to be the one object I needed to scan the QR code. I have also seen them used in posters above men’s toilets and I don’t need to explain the issues involved with that. However the worst example I have seen has to be on bus advertising. Not only on the back of a bus which will be mainly seen by drivers of cars but also on the side of a double-decker, which would take an amazing effort to scan.
Research suggests that QR codes have maintained a steady popularity and although not to the numbers some may have predicted they are being used on a regular basis.
For a long time now I have assumed the QR code was dead and buried, just a fad that was finished before it had ever really started. However a few weeks ago I had a conversation with a friend who works in teaching and told me that lately she has been receiving training in QR codes. It turns out QR codes are being used around schools as learning aids beside educational displays. Children use school iPads to scan the QR codes and find out more information on the topic being displayed. They are also being used in ‘quests’ in which children have to find clues by following the QR codes around the school to eventually solve the puzzle. Personally I think this is a brilliant and innovative way to use this technology.
Further discussion at Cargo HQ showed that bus stops are using them to tell you the next bus to arrive at a stop. Although this is effectively just showing you the timetable that is accessible in many formats this idea could be developed into a very useful tool. It’s not the QR codes fault that the content behind it isn’t the best for the user but as a concept I could see that working really well.
These two examples have shown that maybe we shouldn’t write the QR code off just yet. They prove that used in the right place with the right content behind then they still have a purpose and could be very useful. It may have took a little while but maybe the QR code has finally found it’s niche.