The UX related to QR codes
Quick Response (QR) codes are a common feature in a lot of digital interfaces today. We use them in different industries and for various purposes, from tracking products to sharing URLs to making payments, and more.
Recently, QR codes have gained even wider usage in mobile software. So many applications in the market use them as simple and fast ways to perform authentication or make connections.
However, the user experience related to these QR codes has been a subject of debate, are they any good? In this article, we will consider this argument in depth.
What are QR codes?
QR codes are a type of matrix (two-dimensional) barcode invented in Japan back in 1994 by Toyota subsidiary, Denso Wave. They are a way of storing information such as URLs, text, images, etc. You can scan and decode this information using a smartphone camera or a dedicated QR code reader app. On scanning, the information stored is displayed on the user's device in a usable format.
What industries use them?
Virtually all industries can make use of QR codes.
QR codes are popular in the marketing industry, according to a Statista study, 45% of shoppers use QR codes built for marketing-related tasks. QR codes can be used to direct users to promotional offers, web pages, and more. They are also popular in other industries, such as logistics and manufacturing, to track and manage products.
In the mobile space, they are used for various purposes, including tracking products, sharing URLs, making payments, and more.
The Benefits of QR Codes
Wondering why there's widespread adoption of QR codes in several applications and interfaces? It's because there are numerous advantages they offer as a method of authentication and data exchange.
Some of the advantages of using QR codes in various products include:
- Ease of use: QR codes are supposed to be a simple method of communication between devices, all you usually need is a smartphone. They come with a QR code scanner and using its camera you can scan and read whatever information that is encoded within.
- Speed: Quick Response QR code is called quick for a reason. It's one of the fastest ways to do a handful of things in the smartphone industry. Using QR codes one can connect with other devices and receive response data in seconds. This makes it an efficient feature that smartphone users love to use.
- Accessibility: a major concern of user experience design as a discipline is to ensure that designers create a product that considers everyone.
To make accessible products, designers have to adopt standards and best practices that ensure it's convenient for people to use your product. QR codes are good accessibility features as they can help people who have difficulty reading text.
Common UX Issues with QR Codes
QR codes pose a set of challenges to users given it's a unique way of representing data, and it is a bit sophisticated for some people. Here is an overview of common QR code usability issues:
- Scanning difficulties: scanning QR codes with the camera of your smartphone can be a bit burdensome to some people. Not only do you have to suspend other activities to do this, but sometimes your camera might produce blurry results and you need to keep adjusting and rescanning.
- Unclear instructions: a lot of apps present QR codes without clear information. And this results in users not fully understanding what QR codes are and how they are beneficial. Therefore, it's important to state clear instructions that will guide the user on using the QR codes.
- User confusion: QR codes until recently weren't very popular and a lot of users still have little clue what they are. And since these codes present data in a non-human readable manner, it's easy to find a person who is confused about the whole thing.
- QR code readers: one of the main concerns related to the UX of QR codes is the need to download a dedicated QR code reader app. While most smartphones come with a pre-installed QR code reader, some users may not be aware of this or may not want to download an additional app. This can result in a poor user experience and discourage users from engaging with QR codes.
- Visual design: finally, another concern related to the UX of QR codes is the visual design. QR codes can be quite plain and unappealing, and they may not fit in with the overall aesthetic of an app or website. This can make users hesitant to scan the QR code, as it may not seem trustworthy or professional.
Addressing UX Issues with QR Codes
You can customize QR codes to fit your brand, and while the black dots and spaces represent actual data, you can improve their visuals and your users' interaction with them. An overview of QR code design best practices for implementing QR codes to optimise user experience is discussed below.
UX Design for QR Codes
To design QR codes, designers and developers need to consider the user experience and ensure that the QR code is easy to scan and understand. They can achieve this by:
- Placing the QR code in a prominent location, easy to find and accessible, such as on the home screen or a landing page.
- Ensuring that the QR code is visually appealing and fits in with the overall design aesthetic. Numerous online QR code generators can help you create and customize QR codes for free, e.g Qr code generator and QR codeMonkey.
- Providing clear instructions on how to scan the QR code, including which app to use and how to download it if necessary.
- Making sure that the QR code is scannable from a distance and in various lighting conditions.
In conclusion, the UX related to QR codes is a topic of ongoing debate. While they can provide a convenient and seamless experience for users, there are also concerns related to the need to download a separate app and the visual design. When designing QR codes, it's essential to consider the user experience and ensure that the code is easy to scan and understand. By doing so, designers and developers can create a positive user experience and encourage users to engage with QR codes.