Flog > To QR or not to QR?

Posted by Mitch Flynn

To QR or not to QR? Look closely at the real estate sign in the photo and you'll notice there's a black-and-white square in the upper left just below the big bright red "SOLD" header. That's a QR code. "QR" stands for "Quick Read" and is a relatively recent and ingenious bridge between printed materials (like real estate signs) and websites, videos, and business card information. You use your mobile phone's camera to "acquire" the QR code, which then puts your digital destination right in the palm of your hand. Cool, right? Yes, but not always. Making QR codes successful is a labor of aligning the stars. The destination has to fit on a smartphone screen - and many websites don't, because they haven't been "optimized" for mobile devices - and you also have to have a good reason to walk through the rather tedious process of whipping out your phone, loading the QR code app, acquiring the image, pausing while it loads your destination, and then...doing whatever it is you started out to do in the first place, four steps ago, an eternity in the age of A.D.D. So here's the "Q?" for QR codes: are they a good idea now that their novelty has worn off? (It used to be that having one in your print ads was, like a Twitter or Facebook logo, a testament to your digital with-it-ness.) So here's our humble "A": It all depends. Like many apps du jour, if not used intelligently, there's more whiz than bang for your buck, and in that case, your smartphone can start feeling kind of dumb.