Best Practices And Pitfalls — Smashing Magazine

Quick abstract ↬

While QR codes have many makes use of and could be leveraged at many contact factors, they’re simply one in all dozens of applied sciences that may enhance the client’s journey. Stanislav Khrustalev shares his recommendation with a listing of issues to bear in mind when utilizing QR codes for your enterprise.

QR codes are a helpful know-how that simplify and enrich the client journey. The know-how is presently used virtually in all places: e-menus in eating places, digital enterprise playing cards, buyer suggestions assortment after meals supply, boarding passes on the airport. However, as with all the pieces else, a enterprise proprietor ought to think about a number of issues when utilizing this know-how in the event that they need to create a optimistic buyer expertise.

In this text, I’ve assembled a guidelines of things to bear in mind as you attempt to leverage QR codes for your enterprise, damaged down by the steps of the client journey. So, on this mini-journey, our buyer:

  • Sees the QR code for the primary time,
  • Examines the code,
  • Scans it,
  • Follows the hyperlink from the code.

Let’s take a better have a look at what to contemplate in every stage.

Note: This record can and shall be up to date because it continues to develop, so in case you have any concepts on what might be included, please do let me know. Let’s make this content material much more worthwhile for everybody!


A primary level: When acceptable, QR codes are price utilizing. The pandemic and the emergence of built-in code-scanning on our smartphones have set the stage: The public is prepared for this know-how. It’s a great time to make use of QR codes and to alleviate your clients from having to memorize an extended URL or kind it in manually.

Gruzovichkof (a delivery firm), as an illustration, states on its automobiles that its app is accessible within the App Store and Google Play, however it doesn’t present clients with any hyperlink to it:

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Technopark (a retailer) performs this process extra intelligently, permitting you to obtain the app by scanning the QR code positioned on the floor of its supply automobiles:

A van with Cyrillic script that shows a retailer ad

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Code Visibility

Try to place the QR code in such a approach that it’s clearly seen from varied factors of the trail that your clients are following. For instance, if the QR code just isn’t at eye stage, you then run the chance of consumers not noticing it in any respect.

IKEA is nice at this, though initially I considered mentioning it as a foul instance. By inserting QR codes underneath the suggestions assortment terminal, which appears illogical, it simplifies the method of offering suggestions for guests on wheelchairs:

Cyrillic script in an IKEA store with a screen to assist folks in wheelchairs

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Free Space

If potential, place the QR code in a approach that it doesn’t “stick” to the opposite design components on the floor. And reduce the visible noise round it, in order that the consumer’s consideration doesn’t dissipate and the code is less complicated to note.

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2. Examining The Code

Call To Action

Don’t present a QR code with out a proof. Let clients know explicitly what they’re being requested. To improve the chance that clients will scan your QR code, place an express call to motion (CTA) subsequent to it:

A QR code alongside Cyrillic script

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Explanation Of Value

In addition to the CTA, clarify to clients why scanning the QR code could be worthwhile to them. By managing their expectations, you additional improve the chance that they’ll take motion.

For instance, the call to obtain the app in Nespresso’s boutique is accompanied by an infographic with key advantages:

A Nespresso advertisement poster showing a QR code explained in an infographic

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Contact Details

Some companies additionally place contact particulars subsequent to their QR codes. It’s vital to not overwhelm, however in some instances these particulars could be acceptable, equivalent to for a hotline:

An ad shown on window glass with Cyrillic script and a QR code for customers to access the website

(Large preview)

Most QR code mills let you model the code by inserting your organization brand at its centre. This will make your code look extra skilled and improve the possibility of drawing your clients’ consideration.

A QR code with a company’s logo placed right in the middle

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Brand Colors

QR code mills additionally let you choose a coloration to your code. This is a good alternative to make use of your model’s colours and make the code extra visually interesting.

3. Scanning A QR Code


Make positive that any QR code you place in offline media just isn’t too small. Also account for the gap from which the code shall be scanned. If it’s too small, clients could have hassle scanning it, and the code shall be ineffective.

Non-Contact Surface

Minimize direct bodily contact along with your QR code. Otherwise, the floor will erode over time, and the code will turn out to be tougher to scan. For instance, for a storefront, stick the code contained in the window, relatively than exterior.

In one in all Street Beat’s shops (a sports activities attire retailer), QR codes are positioned on the checkout counter. The concept is kind of good, however as a result of it’s a contact floor, the sticker will come off steadily, after which it can look untidy and finally have to get replaced.

QR codes placed on a checkout counter

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Comfort Of Scanning

Place your QR code in a location the place it’s snug to scan, with out speeding. For instance, a freeway billboard is not going to solely be inconvenient for patrons, however may also improve the chance of accidents.

Mobile Network Availability

Many QR codes are hyperlinks to web sites. If yours is, be certain it’s someplace the place a cellular community or Wi-Fi is available. Otherwise, the worth of the code shall be near zero.

Proper Surface

You’ll see some QR codes positioned on clear surfaces, which makes them tough to scan or not scannable in any respect.

A QR code placed on window glass of an Etam Paris boutique

(Large preview)

In Nespresso’s boutique, this concern is clear: The code is sort of unscannable. Store personnel discovered an answer: Every time a buyer tries to scan the code, they maintain up a sheet of paper as a background (which continues to be not one of the best buyer expertise on the finish of the day):

A Nespresso advertisement placed on window glass making it unscannable due to the interior design of the boutique

(Large preview)

X5 Retail Group (a meals retailer) makes use of billboards alongside the streets to indicate its QR codes for downloading its app. Due to the format of the billboards, the codes aren’t as straightforward to learn as they might be on a stable floor.

A billboard advertisement with tiny ad text and a QR code that are impossible to access from the street

(Large preview)

Environmental Factors

If you place a QR code exterior, think about environmental components equivalent to lighting and climate. If the poster shall be poorly highlighted at evening, the code shall be a lot more durable to scan. If you’re utilizing autos (equivalent to supply automobiles or cabs), make sure that they’re cleaned repeatedly, particularly in unhealthy climate — the usefulness of a code coated with grime is near zero.

Explaining The Scanning Process

Despite the prevalence of QR codes, not everyone seems to be conscious of what to do with them. That’s why it’s a great apply to obviously clarify this subsequent to the code. For instance, you can write, “Point your smartphone camera at the QR code to scan it”, together with an icon of a digital camera.

A QR code on a bill explaining how to scan it and access the site

(Large preview)

Scanning With Native Camera App

Set clients’ expectations accurately about tips on how to scan the QR code, and if potential, don’t implement an answer that requires folks to put in a specialised digital camera app.

When Auchan launched its progressive “Scan & Pay” system, corresponding QR codes had been positioned all around the retailer. Hundreds of holiday makers tried to scan the codes with a regular digital camera and encountered an error. They weren’t taken to the touchdown web page however got here throughout a system code. (The QR codes needed to be scanned with the digital camera in Auchan’s app.)

An advertisment in a mall showing a QR code that needs to be scanned with a phone camera

(Large preview)

Scanning From Different Devices

A QR code could also be simply scannable on some gadgets and never scannable in any respect on others. Check the scannability of your code on completely different smartphone fashions earlier than sending it for printing.

Color Contrast

Standard QR codes are black and white. If you utilize your model’s coloration, make it possible for it contrasts with the background sufficient to be scanned with none concern.

Dark On Light

Always use a coloration distinction of darkish on gentle — that’s, a darkish QR code on a light-weight background. Not all gadgets can scan the alternative accurately.


Before submitting the code for printing, be certain the code is at a decision excessive sufficient to not blur or pixelate. Otherwise, your effort and cash shall be wasted.

Website Code: Desktop

QR codes will also be utilized in a digital surroundings. For instance, if I’m visiting a website on a desktop pc, the usefulness of an HTML button to obtain an app is questionable. However, a QR code could be scanned from the web page with a smartphone, leading to a smoother obtain course of:

A QR code that can be scanned from a website from a phone camera

(Large preview)

Website Code: Mobile

Unlike on a desktop website, the place a transition to a cellular surroundings could be justified, assume twice about whether or not to place a QR code in your cellular website. If a consumer encounters a code on their smartphone display screen, they will be unable to learn it with their digital camera. In this case, utilizing a button makes extra sense.

Some time in the past, I seen that each the desktop and cellular variations of Auchan’s e-commerce website contained QR codes. While the previous was justified, the usefulness of the latter was questionable:

A QR code on a mboile website that doesn’t seem that useful

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An exception is when customers can share a code with others. A selected and fairly widespread case these days is the verification of an individual’s COVID-19 vaccination standing utilizing the QR code from the cellular model of a public-service website.

This is a primary level, however I made a decision to incorporate it nonetheless. Mistakes typically occur on the execution stage of a enterprise. Before sending a QR code for printing, examine that the hyperlink within the code doesn’t comprise any errors and is energetic. Also, examine repeatedly that each one present QR codes are energetic and dealing.

Content Relevance

Don’t overlook to repeatedly examine the relevance of content material each on the web page that’s accessible by way of the hyperlink and within the space surrounding the QR code, particularly in case you’re utilizing the code for a limited-time supply, an occasion invitation, or the like. Otherwise, it may lead to unmet expectations and a unfavorable buyer expertise.

Landing Page vs. Several Codes

If you need your buyer to take a number of actions, don’t create a QR code for every motion. A greater answer could be to current one QR code, after which define the CTAs on the web page that’s accessible by way of the hyperlink within the QR code. This approach, the presentation of the code will look neater, and the client gained’t be distracted when scanning it.

Below is an instance of a case when this level was not thought by means of (by Persona Sport, a fitness center and wellness membership). Links to Google My Business, Yandex.Maps, and 2GIS may have been positioned on the touchdown web page that’s accessible by way of the QR code:

Too many QR codes are being shown all in one place

(Large preview)

Some time in the past, Coffeemania (a restaurant) used one QR code for patrons to submit critiques, and one other one for patrons to ship tricks to servers (whereas these actions may have been mixed in a single code):

A QR code placed in a menu to allow patrons to submit reviews as well as tips

(Large preview)

Lenta (a retailer) does this extra effectively, permitting clients to decide on the medium by which to speak with assist on the stage of the web web page, relatively than from printed media:

A poster in a shop showing a QR code allowing customers to communicate with the support team

(Large preview)

Managing Expectations

The content material accessed by way of the hyperlink ought to match the CTA subsequent to the QR code. If an invite to subscribe to a social media account is the CTA, and the client is prompted to take a number of unrelated actions upon scanning the code, then their consideration may get diverted, and they may not take any motion in any respect.

The disadvantage of the final instance is that the QR code, which permits the client to decide on the medium by which to speak with buyer assist, leads to not a devoted touchdown web page, however merely to the principle e-commerce web page, blurring the client’s focus:

A screenshot of an e-commerce page to which the phone user was taken to instead of customer support

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Mobile Optimization

It’s vital to know that scanning a QR code is only one a part of the journey {that a} buyer takes. That’s why pondering by means of all the steps is vital. Specifically, if the client scans a QR code with their cellphone and finally ends up on a web page that isn’t optimized for cellular gadgets, it gained’t do them (otherwise you) any good.

App Downloads

You can use deep linking to scale back your variety of QR codes and to simplify the client journey. This technique permits you, amongst different issues, to determine the kind of gadget that the client is utilizing when scanning your QR code. It is helpful once you’re offering a hyperlink to obtain an app. iPhone customers who’ve scanned the QR code will go to the App Store, whereas Android customers, having scanned the identical code, will go to Google Play. The buyer’s focus just isn’t distracted by a number of QR codes, and there’s no want to decide on, whereas the worth is identical.

Coffeemania’s loyalty program provides a number of QR codes, relying on the best way the consumer needs to register. This might be overwhelming:

Showing too many QR codes can be quite overwhelming to users

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Uniqlo, then again, doesn’t ask what sort of smartphone I’ve. The related app retailer will open mechanically once I observe the hyperlink from the QR code:

A poster found on an elevator wall displaying a QR code that allows people to access relevant stores regardless of what type of smartphone they have

(Large preview)


You can personalize the client’s expertise by leveraging UTM parameters within the hyperlink from the QR code. For instance, to permit clients to judge a restaurant server’s work, you’ll be able to add the server’s ID as a hyperlink parameter and personalize the suggestions web page with their title.


Besides personalization, UTM parameters will also be used for analytics. For instance, when inserting QR codes on completely different banners across the metropolis, you’ll be able to add corresponding parameters with the ID of every banner to see which banners get extra visitors and which of them ought to be relocated sooner or later.

To Be Continued

QR codes can simplify the client journey and make it extra handy. As with all the pieces else, nonetheless, the effectiveness of this contact level will depend on the small print, and poorly carried out particulars can flip your vivid prospects into a foul buyer expertise.

If you utilize QR codes in your enterprise, pay attention to the pitfalls alongside the best way, and leverage all the know-how out there, and don’t depend on having to be taught from your individual errors. I hope this text was worthwhile, and in case you have one thing so as to add, drop me a message — we’ll proceed to refine one of the best practices.

Good luck and keep up a correspondence!

Smashing Editorial
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