What the heck is that code about?

posted by Lauren Rauseo on: 11/10/11 in category: design | tags: , , ,

The other day, a traffic light at a major intersection near my house was not working properly; instead one way was blinking red, and the other way was flashing yellow. Having passed my written driver’s test many years ago, I knew just what to do.

Others, however, did not. I held my breath and prayed that the drivers coming from the left and from the right of me would realize that flashing yellow does not mean you can speed right through. I proceeded with caution through the intersection with my children securely buckled in their car seats. Thankfully, we made it through (and the light was fixed before I had to pick my son up from school and take my chances again).

But it got me thinking. What good is it to have something out there (a system of red and yellow blinking lights) if only a handful of the people on the road know what to do with that information? 

I think the same could be said of the ever popular QR codes. Sure, some people, especially in the younger generations, know what it is and how to use it, but there are many more people out there who have no idea what it is when they see the obscure black and white boxes on a brochure, a poster, or a TV screen. And even for the people in your audience who know what it is and actually have an app on their phone to use it, the outlets that display the code often omit what will happen when it is scanned. Will it take the user to a website? Will it create an appointment in his/her calendar? Will it create a new contact? Will it send an email?

So here is my two cents: The next time you think about including a QR code on your marketing project, consider adding a simple line of text to go with it: “Scan this to [fill in the blank here with what will happen].” And if you have anything to do with the traffic lights in my neighborhood, put some instructions on those, too.

About the Author

Lauren Rauseo is your one-stop shop for print design, websites, HTML email, and more. When she's not busy working on client projects, Lauren enjoys running, doing yoga, drinking a soy white mocha, and having a dance party in the living room with her kids. Shake it off, people, just shake it off.

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