Should you use a QR Code?

According to research, only 31 per cent of UK consumers know what a QR (or Quick Reader) code is, and of that number, only 19 per cent had actually scanned one according to eConsultancy. But it wasn’t that long ago you could find QR codes everywhere – printed on posters, fliers, magazines, advertisements and food labels.

Do QR codes belong in a museum?

All the statistics we found while writing this post suggest they do – while people from younger age groups tend to know what they are, they don’t use them. And while they are useful for offering discounts and more information on advertising, these types of QR codes don’t attract many users due to many factors such as poor placement, bad internet connectivity, dead links, software installation (if they don’t already have a QR reader on their device) and security concerns. Most users also like to know where they are being sent when going online, something that is almost never given with a QR code.

Some of the best examples we’ve seen of QR codes in action are real-world uses for getting more information on a topic in the moment; for example, gyms using QR codes on equipment to link to best practice videos and top tips for novice users, or museums using them to allow visitors quick access to more information on a particular exhibit or the exhibition as a whole.

QR codes in print

A number of our clients have at some point asked us the question in the title of this post “Should we use QR codes?”, and more often than not, our response is “no”. One of the best reasons for this answer is that proofing QR codes for print is not a simple task – they must be scanned at all stages of the process to make sure the link still works.

Too often, web pages change or move or break at a moment’s notice, and problems can creep in after print with even the most stringent proofing systems in place – as Heinz in Germany discovered to their cost recently (read the story here).

QR codes are good for measuring link usage (depending on how they were created) and make for a simple life when using lengthy links in print to link to online documentation or downloads. But then, all that can be accomplished by online link-shortening services, such as or Google’s, which allow you to create customisable shortlinks.

Should you use a QR code?

With all the barriers to access, lack of software, lack of user knowledge and broken links, now could be the time to stop using those little crossword puzzle grids, and start using shortlinks or the actual url for the information you want to link to.