Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Three Good Practice Rules of QR Codes

At the moment scanning a QR code is a bit like a lucky dip. Occasionally you get a prize, but usually you get an unreadable landing page. At least it is unreadable on a smartphone, and as most people scan QR codes from a smartphone taking the scanner to a page that cannot be read is, well, just plain silly. However, when the user gets home, in this cloud connected world, they might use a tablet PC or a desktop to revisit your landing page.

I cannot resist scanning QR codes and have collected a fair few examples of codes that amuse me for all the wrong reasons. However,  I have started to wonder how much money is now being wasted by companies persuaded that QR codes are the next big thing. Interactions with customers should be handled thoughtfully whether they are in person, in writing, and on-line.  The QR code is just another link in the process, and if you can't be bothered to make sure the customer can read it then consider what sort of message you are sending about you, and your business.

Designing web pages for a wide range of platforms, browsers and screen sizes is not easy but it can be done. For a working example look at the q-action pages . To date we have focussed on meeting W3C standards and using a fluid layout that works on everything we have tested it on. The content is completely independent of style so we know that we have many options to change the page style in the future.  So our first QR code good practice rule is:
Always design your QR code landing pages so they can be viewed on any device, with any screen size using any web browser.
The next issue is one of security. There are already reports in the press of QR codes being used to take users to "toxic" sites that are used for phishing or malware attacks. This type of problem is only going to get worse,  so in anticipation q-action already has some built in protection. Q-action cards always link to a secure https: location rather than a http: location. Some QR code scanners can already be set to only re-direct to such sites. https: does not guarantee security, but it is a very good step in the right direction. The q-action app also uses the Google Safe Browsing API to minimise the chance that any q-action page will link to a toxic site. So our second QR code good practice rule is:
Ensure that users have confidence in using QR codes by only linking to safe and secure locations that will not cause harm or offence.
Now consider timeliness.  Your printed QR code will last much, much longer than: your advertising campaign; your role in your company; your event; and probably anything else you link to with it. So what happens next? Our third QR code good practice rule is:
Make sure the QR code has longevity beyond its short term use by updating its message or ultimate landing page.
Finally you are ready to follow all the rest of the good advice that is out there including: location, message, and content. If you are having trouble meeting these good practice guidelines then consider using q-action as your QR code hosting service.

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