10 Rules for the Usability of QR Codes

By limitlessbuzz May 17, 2024 #codes #rules #usability

When moving from the real world to digital spaces or between digital channels, QR codes enable a smooth transition. Although entering a URL is more time-consuming than scanning a QR code, users are not always likely to act simply because a QR code is visible to them.

Applications For QR Codes

Simplify sharing with a QR code maker! These tools (explore QR generators too!) turn text, links, or vCards into scannable codes. Print the code or share it digitally – a scan with a QR code reader unlocks the information instantly.

gradual reveal. Access to extra information that doesn’t fit in small spaces or isn’t relevant to all users can be obtained with QR codes. They may resemble links to learn more about the real world. A small sign promoting a local initiative, for instance, cannot hold much information; however, by scanning the QR code located in the corner of the sign, more information can be accessed online. Because they are uninterested or the interaction cost is too great, very few users will take the time to scan such codes; however, the code enables the designer to create a sign that is simpler. Relevant information about interest in the initiative can be gleaned from the quantity of scans for this code.
crosses over various channels of interaction. These shifts are typically from a physical to a digital environment. For instance, a parking meter can display a QR code that directs users to download the payment application. QR codes can also facilitate smooth transitions between digital devices, such as TVs, PCs, and smartphones, in other situations. Passkeys and other types of authentication, for instance. The purpose of these codes is convenience rather than awareness, so the quantity of scans a code receives is not as significant as the workflow efficiency it provides. Assess the performance of these codes using qualitative usability testing.
cutting back on the need for print. One way to transfer printed information to a digital platform is through QR codes. This has environmental advantages, convenience, and cleanliness. To limit the spread of germs and eliminate the need to print menus, a restaurant can offer a QR code that links to their menu, enabling as many people to access it as they wish.

QR-Code Usability Guidelines

1. Explain to Users the Functions of QR Codes and Their Sources

QR codes do not carry any information by themselves, in contrast to links with labels or raw URLs that do. Users are not informed about their path or the outcome of scanning them. In order to persuade the user to scan the code, designers must give sufficient context. QR codes are not reliable or appealing without contextual information.

2. Make It Clear Which Apps and Devices Can Scan Codes (When Necessary)

It is also necessary to display this information next to the QR code if it needs to be scanned by a specific device or application. For instance, in China, some restaurant tables have QR codes that can only be scanned using a particular app, like WeChat or Alipay, while other tables may have either app scanned. Confusion can be avoided by making it obvious which programs (or hardware) can scan the code.

3. QR Codes ought to direct users to mobile-friendly websites

Users who scan a QR code on a mobile device are likely to visit the associated website. QR codes should link to responsive or mobile-only websites.

4. Use QR Codes to Deep-Link to Related Pages or Actions

Consumers anticipate that a QR code will take them to content that is specifically relevant to the context of the code, not just any old homepage. Finding yourself on the home page of a website after scanning a code that seems to provide a specific action or piece of information is irksome. This is comparable to providing users with a link that has a strong informational scent but not guiding them to the destination it claims to.

5. If information is displayed and accessed on the same mobile device, use direct links rather than QR codes.

The best use cases for mobile device QR code displays are those in which the user intends to present the code to another party for scanning (e.g., to another user or to a scanner at a physical location).

One excellent example of the kinds of QR codes that ought to be shown on mobile devices is the account connection code or digital boarding pass found within mobile applications. Users are not supposed to scan either of these codes on their own.

6. Avoid Inverting the Colors of QR Codes

It is recommended to display QR codes in light mode, with a light background and a dark foreground. While most modern phones and tablets have cameras that can read QR codes with reversed colors, not all scanning devices used in physical spaces can. Dark hues absorb more light and produce edges that are easier for scanning technologies to recognize as part of the code’s distinct pattern. In situations where codes are likely to be scanned in dimly lit areas or under bright sunlight, this can be especially crucial.

7. Employ QR Codes to Authenticate Devices to Each Other

A key component of successful omnichannel user experiences is enabling devices to work together in ways that complement one another. If a user is already logged into a mobile device account, QR codes offer a powerful method to quickly authenticate on another device, like a computer, smart TV, or even another smartphone. Compared to having to remember and manually enter a password, this method of authentication is far more convenient, even though it carries some risks.

8. Employ Progressive Disclosure to Offer More Information Through QR Codes

It’s simple to conceal extra information with QR codes that most people won’t find interesting. In physical goods with constrained display areas, like ads, signage, or product packaging, they are especially helpful. Just having information available does not, however, make it interesting, as only a small portion of people will have access to information that is restricted to the digital sphere.

9. Make Sure QR Codes Take Users to Current Information

Relevant information should still be displayed to users who scan a QR code in the distant future. A QR code cannot be removed once it has been made public, especially when printed on paper. Some users may still scan the code even if it is only relevant for short-term, current information, like an ongoing advertising campaign, after the related content has become obsolete. The original intent of an old code should be easily accessible through a redirect to a pertinent page explaining that the code’s window has closed.

10. Don’t Just Depend on QR Codes to Visit Sites Often

One cannot recall QR codes. Even though URLs are seldom remembered by users, they are still easier to remember than QR codes. When a website is only accessible through QR codes, the majority of users won’t be able to visit it again without the code. Especially on mobile devices, a lot of people will find it difficult to access previously visited links by browsing through their browsing history.

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