Whether I procure my opinions from a design or marketing standpoint, the verdict is the same: QR codes are a horrible idea in theory and in practice. Whether they’re offering me some incentive, or additional information, they are an ugly solution that, in my experience, can be handled in a handful of other ways that won’t force me to pull out my phone, open an app, click the little code that’s usually hard to scan only to take me to a site that is either broken or insanely difficult to navigate. Not once have I thought to myself, “Ah, perfect. I’m so glad I spent the last few minutes fiddling with my phone for this information.”

The above picture is a perfect example of how silly these things are. If you have the space to give me a 5-step set of instructions, I’m pretty sure you could just provide the information you so desperately want me to engage with. In this case, they have the gusto to provide me with a shortcut to the previous 5-step instructions with a “or just type…” The nerve.

Here are some definitive reasons that QR codes should be avoided:

  1. Usually the information contained behind that little code could just be stated, without requiring a user to do anything.
  2. Most of the time, they don’t fit the function of whatever piece they’re on (ie putting them on billboards or trucks is not only silly, but dangerous).
  3. At best, only 5% of users click on a QR codes (unknown source).
  4. They limit the information to those who have smartphones (although this number is on the rise, this is unnecessarily discriminatory and limits possible engagement).
  5. QR code apps are usually buggy.
  6. The resulting website after scanning the QR code is usually buggy or broken altogether.
  7. Requiring users to whip out their phone, open an app, and scan a code is a lot to ask of people just to feed them a marketing effort.
  8. They’re really ugly and clutter designs, regardless of how sneaky you are with placement.
  9. Brad Frost, a leader in all things good, says so.

Agree? Disagree?