Are QR codes really here to stay?

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What have Betamax videos, MiniDiscs and Chris Moyles’ television career got in common? They were a short fad that promised big things but inevitably got outshone by something better. I have to admit, I thought the QR code would be the same (and there’s still time) but it does seem to be sticking around…

I’ve been dead against QR codes since they first reared their ugly, blocky little heads a few years back. They are a zit on the face of good design. They’re clunky, don’t always work and, personally, I didn’t see them as necessary – just a fad, something everyone thinks they need but in reality, don’t.

It seems I could be bang wrong in this thought. I’m not saying I love them now; however, they do seem to be fulfilling a purpose. You may have seen the Japanese QR markets, where you scan the code of the items you want to buy and collect them at the end. Well there are other areas of online purchasing and billing have also adopted the method with great success.

The feedback is saying that it’s a simpler, more efficient way of cataloguing numerous items for people to browse. I can see their point in this context; long website addresses are a pain to type in to your phone or tablet, they aren’t memorable and it’s easy to get them wrong. So scanning a QR code does seem to be an easier way of connecting users to products and services.

Before you go running to your design agency demanding they reinstate QR codes back onto your packaging or advertising, a word of caution – they are still ugly and aren’t right for all applications. There are studies showing great data for the little blighters and there are some experts who demonstrated why they don’t work so the information is out there for you to make an informed decision.

So I was wrong; there are indeed some valid uses for QR codes. Just be sure you aren’t using them to be ‘down with the kids’ and if they are here to stay, use them appropriately.