Friends, we have seen what a Quick Response or QR code is. Let us now have a look at its best practices. Once QR codes burst into prominence, many businesses started incorporating them into advertisements, leaflets, brochures and the like for the sole purpose of being trendy. So, after scanning the code, the user was taken to a home page. Egad! Why would the user take so much trouble to scan a code and simply be directed to a home page? Double egad! So, the golden rule is that don’t have a QR code solely for the sake of it. Have it only when there is a relevant and pertinent reason for the user to take the trouble to scan it. One good reason is to allow the user to benefit immediately after scanning the code by offering a discount, or a limited time offer, or a free MP3 download or a product or service tour. The more incisive the reason to scan the code, the better the utilization of the QR code. Let us now look at the Ten Commandments that constitute the best practices of QR codes.
- Size does matter: The size of the QR code should ideally be 1” x 1”. New scanners are mushrooming that read smaller codes but it is better to assume that the average user has a less sophisticated reader. Keep in mind that the more complex the code is, the larger it should be. Use URL shorteners to crunch the URL.
- Re-sizing matters too: Though file formats like HTML, .tiff, .SVG and .EPS can be used to store QR code data, it is best to use the .PNG data format as it ensures loss-less data compression. In other words, there is no loss of data when re-sizing is done.
- Keep a contrast: The QR code should be on a white or light colored background with black elements or modules. If you insist on colored elements, ensure that there is at least 55% contrast between the squares and the background. Common sense dictates that QR codes be placed on non reflective, non curved surfaces.
- Space and place: Ensure that there is a good border of white space around the QR code. When a QR code is printed on paper, make sure that is away from the crease of the page so that it does not get crinkled up when the paper is folded. Because of the white space around the QR code, do not place it on the edge of a page.
- Prevention is better than cure: Once the QR code is generated, it is prudent to test it thoroughly before printing it to see that it takes you to the correct web page. Gawd! Imagine printing thousands of leaflets only to discover that the code does not work! Also test the QR code with Android, iPhones, BlackBerry, Windows to see that it works with various technologies and operating systems. As a backup, (if for some strange reason the QR code does not work), provide a web page URL so that the user is not disappointed. And, let not your code point to pages with Flash content…an iPhone does not support Flash. You will lose up to 30% of your user base.
- Location does matter: Use QR codes in appropriate places. Ensure that there is net connectivity where the code is displayed. Heavens! Imagine using a QR code in a subway where there is no WiFi or 3G! And for God’s sake do not place a QR code on a billboard on a highway unless you want a 20 car pileup! And no QR code on a web page when a hyperlink will suffice! Don’t forget that the QR code is a fancy hyperlink. Make sure there is plenty of light to scan the code. In short, place QR codes in locations where they can easily and safely be scanned.
- Optimize for mobile: The QR code will be seen on the screen of a mobile phone. So make sure that your code leads to pages optimized for a mobile. Gadzooks! Imagine a code that redirects control to a web page that is displayable on a large, computer monitor!
- And how! QR codes are just becoming popular and many people don’t know how to scan a code let alone why to scan it. So, for heaven’s sake give plenty of instructions – how to scan a QR code, where to download a reader app, and so on. Granted, QR codes are unsightly and placing instructions will make it more so but it is worth the trouble to place instructions near the code.
- And why? Analytics is a very important aspect of the QR code strategy. Studies have shown that these codes give a high ROI (return on investment) for companies because they enable a person to immediately find out more about any advertisement they have just seen – right on their smart phones. But darn! Imagine having a QR code and not knowing how many people have scanned it, the geo location where they have scanned it and whether the QR code served its purpose or not! Analysis lets you infer intelligent information based on all the above mentioned factors.
- Finally, the KISS of life: I mean, once the user arrives on the landing page, keep it simple, senor! Make sure that the user utilizes the least amount of keystrokes, clicks or as in the case of mobile phones, taps, to avail that discount, get that coupon, see the video, take a virtual tour and so on. Don’t forget, the page has to be clean and not cluttered up.