QR Codes Need to be Easier or they’ll be Extinct

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I was struggling to read a QR Code on a colleagues’ business card recently (after three tries I lost interest) then saw Heidi Tolliver-Nigro’s blog “Ever Tried to Download a QR Code Reader?” today.  She struck a chord, judging by the number of comments to the blog.

While QR codes are novel, they won’t receive widespread acceptance until three things happen:

1) QR Code readers need to be loaded onto all mobile devices.  This will remove the obstacle that Heidi mentions and increase user adoption.  Think back to life before Adobe Acrobat Readers weren’t on all new PC’s.  Get the picture?

2) Users will need a bit of training.  Once the software is loaded onto all devices this will be fairly straight-forward…something like “Point and shoot to see this website”.  Once users know the software is on their device and recognize a QR code when they see it, we’re halfway there.

3) Marketers will need to incentivize users with lots of value in order to get them over the hump.  Just going to the homepage of your site isn’t going to motivate anyone.  They could just as easily go there directly or use Google.  There needs to be something special there:  a prize, coupon, sweepstakes, inside information…something to justify the extra effort in the consumers mind.

I’ve blogged on QR code readers a year ago and they remain a novelty today while other devices like ebook readers take off.  If QR codes don’t become easier to use soon new technologies that are easier will replace them.  Look at Google Goggles.   Point and shoot.  No cryptic codes.

Remember: The Web grew (and continues to grow) based upon being better, faster and easier than alternative methods.  Who buys a set of encyclopedia’s anymore?  Who spends all day shopping for a car, refrigerator or lawn tractor by going from place to place without first spending time online doing some local research?  Time starved consumers can’t wait.

On the Web its either Easy or Extinct.  Pick one.

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