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Monday, May 30, 2011

Why would you put a QR code on a website?

This question came up after a discussion of QRcodes. Basically the person felt that there was NO reason to put a QRcode on a website - links should just be links. I agree that links that are just links are well... just links.. but that viewpoint completely overlooks the difference between mobile and nonmobile (laptop, desktop, etc.)

The advantage of a QRcode is that you can make it do something to phone or mobile device or heck, even a desktop PC - you can send content and information directly to someone without them having to copy and paste, or click or additional steps, or even login (because they will already be logged in via their mobile). So, I can think of few reasons- most notably as a means to download an app to your phone but I can think of a few other uses, too, so here goes:

Uses for a QRcode on a website
  • To load an app
  • Take this blog (or news or RSS or whatever) with you
  • Maps & directions
  • Contact info and save to address book
  • Events - download event, set event reminder & save to calendar
  • Coupons or special offers
  • Menus
  • Photo slideshow or video
  • Podcasts/Videocasts
  • Music
  • Wallpapers/virtual postcards
I'm sure there are even COOLER things that can be done - those are just a few I can think of off of the top of my head.
Here is an excellent list of QRcode generators and for even more QR fun check out stickerscan.

or you can just attend my exhibit. ;-)


Anonymous said...

Maybe I'm just missing something, but if I saw the QR code on my mobile device, how would I use a QR reader that requires me to take a picture of the QR code with my mobile device to take the picture of the QR code that is displayed on the mobile device?

Do you know which QR readers for mobile devices will interpret a QR code that is embedded in a web site, or an email for that matter? And for which mobile devices?

robin said...

I am a droid girl, but I use barcode scanner. It is a free app.
Once installed, you click on the app, point your cell camera at the barcode or QR code, and your phone and the code will do the work.

Both Iphone and Droid has apps. I have a list of apps by device that I can share, but I need to locate it. ;-)

Anonymous said...

But you can't point your camera at a QR code that you see on a website on your phone!!

robin said...

true, you can't point your camera on your phone to a qr code on a website when you are mobile browsing. ;-) There are a few tools to read barcodes or QR codes without a camera/mobile device. I'm not sure about one for mobile browsing, but I am going to take a look around. As society moves further into mobile (the U.S. is kind behind on that), then I do think we'll see ways to activate QR codes via mobile browsing. The problem with QR codes at the moment is that some are useful and others are just not so much (e.g., a QR code on product that provides care info but not price...)

Mike Klein said...


Thanks for offering a differing opinion. However, I couldn't disagree more with your conclusion. The thought of pulling out a phone to take a photo of a QR code on website on a desktop is totally silly. In all of the cases you mention on your blog you could simply use a link. Doing so doesn't overlook the difference between mobile and non-mobile. It just offers up the simplest solution to help your audience. Doing otherwise is just a waste of time.


robin said...

Hmm. I guess you could do some javascript (?) to automatically install an app to your phone when you click on a link? Is that possible? My QR code automatically loads my email address into your mobile device's contact book. It is true I could do a VF Card that would do the same thing, but then you'd have to get it to your phone. That is the piece that is different about QRCodes. They should DO SOMETHING to or with your phone. I also don't understand what is wrong with offering the simplest solution. I think machines should work for us and make our lives easier. ;-)

JenJen said...

Re Anonymous' comment about QR codes on screen - I think the best practice would be to include a clickable link if the QR code just goes to a website. But some QR codes do other stuff. So a workaround for a phone user is to take a screenshot of the QR code (assuming their phone can do that; I think most can) and then use a QR reader that lets you access your photo albums for QR sources. I know QR Reader (iOS) can do that.

I think there are legit specific use cases for QR codes on websites where yes, the person would be using a desktop or kiosk and also have their phone, anywhere your users population is likely to be using the site on a computer that isn't theirs. Like a library, airport, mall kiosk, etc.

Stephen K. Anthony said...

I use a handy bookmarklet to make a QR code for whatever site I'm currently on in my desktop browser. I frequently use it to grab whatever site I'm on with my mobile so I can continue reading it away from my desk. So I can certainly see the use for QR codes embedded in websites.

Anonymous said...

Hi all,

first i want to appologize about my bad english ! :)

I have an app simply called 'QR Code' that enable to scan a storage pics of Qr Code .... so it's possible to scan a Code from your mobile.

Regarding the utility about a QR on Website, i think there is some exemple that can be cool, like a mobil profil that offer all your information on unique Web page (socail netwprk, phone, mail, Website etc ...)
The real thing we need to keep in mind is that once the code is scanned all informations are "saved" in the Mobile!

Christophe Harelle