English articles, QR, Top Tasks

Explain what the QR code will deliver

Image a link that says “Click here” without any clue what you will get when you click. From the context you may know a brand name, but that’s it. Would you click? Of course not. Well, every day you can find QR codes with no clue of what you’ll get. That’s not good practice. A QR code is a link, so explain the promise.

And it’s oh so simple to do. Just a few examples in my mother tongue, with translations, don’t worry.

The bad example first, two good examples further on.

Not the good example: newspaper ad from Audi, appeared in national newspapers in Belgium on 12 March.

No translation needed, I guess. QR in the right bottom corner with some text below it. That text simply is the url of the landing page. No explanation. Not even that the url and the code mean the same thing.

Scan, go to browser, and here is the actual landing page (bit embarassing in a country like Belgium, the QR went to the French language landing page. Someone hasn’t been double checking the links… Never mind.)

A classic web page, not fit for the smartphone screen. And the only thing I can do is follow Audi on Facebook, or leave. No reason given why I should follow Audi, what would be my benefit. And no option or extra for who is not on Facebook.

Good example 1

As many print and online IT magazines, Datanews has an app for reading the articles on smartphones and tablets. In all print issues, the QR code leading to that app is shown at least on one page. This is how it looks in the colophon.

The text is the black box with the arrow says: “If you have an iPhone, iPad 2 or Android device, scan this code and read Datanews with the App. If you have another type of smartphone, scan the code and read Datanews on our mobile site.”

Clear and simple. Anyone now knows what the QR code will deliver.

Big effort? No. Good practice? Yes.

The context even offers a solution for those who can’t play the iOS or Android apps. They must have been disappointed with a lot of QRs before. In this case, they won’t.

Good example 2, a very good example indeed.

An advertisement in the national press on 19 March to attract business business investors to the province of Limburg. The original thing about the ad is certainly not the image and the copy, it’s the classic testimonial of a local CEO who says that that province takes care of the businesses in their area and that you can conquer Europe from your base in Limburg. Fair enough.

The good thing about the ad is the correct use of the QR. The text above the QR square reads: “Watch the movie”

Ah, two important elements in here:

  • the promise is made clear: the link leads to a movie. Yes, they could have mentioned how long it will take, but if they are smart, they won’t make the movie long. Actually, the movie is 30 seconds, it’s on Vimeo, and they have two more 30 seconds movies.
  • there is a implicit warning as well: you may prefer not to connect to the movie, depending on the download limits on your data plan. Movies can eat a lot of megabytes.

It can be that simple. A QR code is a link. A link is a promise. Explain what you promise. Show people the context. That’s good practice.

Other posts on QR:


About Toon Lowette

Customer is not king on the internet, he is dictator. Online services are successful if they allow the customer to do what he came for efficiently and without confusion. Toon Lowette is online publishing consultant in the Customer Carewords network of Gerry McGovern. Task management is the central issue. We teach websites to manage the task, not the content, not the technology. We teach websites to become relentlessly customer centric.


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