“Innovation has nothing to do with how many R&D dollars you have. When Apple came up with the Mac, IBM was spending at least 100 times more on R&D. It's not about money. It's about the people you have, how you're led, and how much you get it.” - Steve Jobs

Alternative IxD to QR Codes

Hiya readers,

I’m assuming you all know what a QR code is. If not, go to wikipedia and search it.

I have been in a bunch of debates about the value of QRs and whether they are good IxD. I’m not here to do that again. What I am interested in if there are designers out there who have come up with other options that don’t require special applications that allow for the same sort of tag & retrieve functionality that QRs are so famous for.

I am concerned about the flow of a QR code here in the US where not a single phone has QR decryption standard in the device.

  1. See QR code
  2. Take out phone
  3. Find app that you haven’t used in ages
  4. Find how to scan
  5. Decode
  6. Go to web page where the data is.

There is a lot of fumbling in there as well as these actions are not done often.

So how do you suggest we do this? Think a museum tour of some kind.


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  • Anonymous

    There are two major failures of QR codes in current use:
    1. The interactions as you stated
    2. One of the really common uses is in ads on the subway, where the linked sites won’t load. Talk about a failure.

    In a context where you do have internet access it’s almost always faster to search for the site, or just type in the URL that’s probably on the poster/ad/whatever anyway.

    I’ve seen some decent SMS implementations of this same sort of thing.. Everybody knows how to send a text message and a link can be returned in SMS for easy access. 

    Another interesting option would be location based tech or near field/rfid that alerts you that there is content available without having to scan or type anything… 

  • http://twitter.com/shoobe01 steven hoober

    2. One of the really common uses is in ads on the subway, where the linked sites won’t load. Talk about a failure. 
    Much better: inflight magazines often have QR codes on the ads now. That’s helpful. 

    And, there’s the problem where there’s too many codes. This sign in a coffee shop says it all: 

    I do tend to agree that PANs /NFC/etc. will be a better solution, but someday. Not today.

    I agree that short coding of some sort, either SMS or just a sensibly-short url or keyword to search on seems like a good idea to me. However, I have such minimal experience in this exact field that I unusually cannot quote relative response rates. 

    I know some people who are very happy with their QR (etc.) response rates, but drilling into the numbers reveals they mostly are cherrypicking. E.g. Of people who successfully engaged once, they get so many sales or redemptions or visits over a 30 day period. Yes, that indeed proves that those who regularly use QR, regularly use QR. But the numbers are still tiny, to me, compared to other sorts of mobile engagement. I bring this up because when I’ve talked about 2D codes with business people, they tend to latch onto the figures (or perception of trendiness), and are reluctant to accept alternative IxD solutions, at all. 

  • Yosef Shuman

    I would put my money on the QR being passed in leaps and bounds by NFC


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