DUMB USES OF QR CODES (and why bad usage may have killed its potential)

Close-up Of Businessman Scanning A Barcode
Close-up Of Businessman Scanning A Barcode

So, knowing what you (now) know about QR codes, it is easy to imagine some foolish ways in which they might be used. These, unfortunately, were rampant when the technology first because widely used in marketing, turning users off, probably for good. Here’s what happened:

QR codes led to sites that were not optimized for mobile viewing. Since QR codes can pretty much only be read by smartphones, this was pretty dumb. It also happened far too often that the scan led to broken or irrelevant links. Bad job, people. Bad job.

Even if the pages they led to were mobile-optimized, there was so much advertising on them, with no clear call to action, that people would just immediately close the page, rendering the whole process pointless.

QR codes were placed on ad spaces like trains, billboards, and television. Since trains move, billboards are generally viewed from moving cars, and TV spots last for mere seconds, there was no way anyone was actually going to be able to scan these codes, which then basically only served to uglified the ads in which they appeared.

QR codes were placed in places like subway tunnels and on airplanes where there was little or no internet connectivity, so scanned codes led only to a frustrating wait for nothing. Though reception has been added to many of these spaces now, this advance, like the prettier codes, is likely too late.

QR codes were placed in emails or websites. Really, folks? This can lead to only two equally asinine scenarios. Either someone is viewing the message or page on their phone, making it impossible to scan the code, since to do that they would need to use their phone or they are on their desktop or laptop and could much more easily click a link. The only reason a QR code should ever appear in an email or on a web page is if it will be scanned at a point of sale as a ticket, coupon, etc. No one is ever going to use their phone to scan a QR code off their computer. That is stupid.