11+ Common QR Code Mistakes You Should Avoid

qr code mistakes you should avoid

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A QR code, short for Quick Response code, is a machine-readable code consisting of an array of black and white squares, now integral to modern digital communication. Their ability to bridge the physical and digital worlds has made them indispensable in various applications, from marketing to payment systems. 

However, as QR codes become increasingly prevalent, there has been a notable increase in common mistakes that compromise efficiency, security, and user experience. This article aims to address these issues, offering in-depth analysis and solutions for the common errors encountered in the creation, deployment, and use of QR codes. 

For a foundational understanding of QR codes, which will enhance your grasp of the concepts discussed in this article, we recommend reading our detailed articles, What is a QR Code? And How do QR Code Work? These resources provide essential background information, setting the stage for a deeper dive into the common mistakes in QR Code usage. 

Choosing Incompatible QR Code Types

Six wrong QR code types

Understanding the types of QR codes is crucial for their effective use. Here’s a breakdown of the different types and their specific applications:

Static vs Dynamic QR Codes

Static QR Codes: These codes link to fixed content that can’t be changed once created. They’re ideal for permanent information like contact details, website URLs, or static advertisements. However, any update to the content requires generating a new QR code. Use cases include business cards, permanent signage, or product labels.

Dynamic QR Codes: These codes allow you to change the linked content without altering the QR code image. This flexibility is perfect for content that needs regular updates, like menus, event details, or promotional campaigns. They’re ideal for situations where information changes frequently, but the QR code’s placement remains constant.

For a deeper understanding of the differences and applications of static and dynamic QR Codes, we recommend reading our comprehensive article, Dynamic vs Static QR Code

Unlimited Scans vs Single-Use Codes

QR Codes with Unlimited Scans: Suitable for broad distribution, various users can scan these codes multiple times. They are perfect for general information sharing, like public service announcements, restaurant menus, or tourist information.

Single-Use QR Codes: Designed for a one-time scan, these codes are ideal for exclusive offers, limited-time promotions, or confidential information like medical records or private access codes. Once scanned, they become inactive, ensuring a controlled and secure use case.

Single vs Bulk QR Codes

Single QR Codes: Best for specific, targeted purposes, a single QR code links to one particular piece of content or action. They are effective for individual marketing campaigns, specific product information, or directing users to a particular online resource.

Bulk QR Codes: Generated in large quantities, each code can link to different content or actions. These are efficient for events where individualised codes are needed for each attendee or in product tracking and logistics, where each item requires a unique QR code for identification and tracking purposes.

Creating Inadequately Sized QR Codes

Two points about the QR code sizing

The effectiveness of a QR code is heavily dependent on its size. A QR code that’s too small can be difficult to scan, rendering it ineffective. It’s essential to strike a balance between the physical size of the QR code and its intended scanning distance to ensure maximum usability.

The minimum size for a QR code, excluding the quiet zone (the margin around the QR code), should be at least 2 cm by 2 cm (0.8 inches by 0.8 inches). This dimension is typically adequate for scans within close proximity, such as those encountered with hand-held brochures or product tags. 

However, the ideal size of a QR code should be determined based on the distance from which it will be scanned. The ’10:1 ratio’ guideline is a useful rule of thumb here. According to this rule, the QR code’s size should be at least one-tenth of the distance from which it is expected to be scanned.

For example, if a QR code is likely to be scanned from 50 inches (127 cm) away, it should be at least 5 inches by 5 inches (12.7 cm by 12.7 cm) or 480 pixels in size, excluding the quiet zone.

Adhering to this guideline ensures that the QR code is easily readable by a standard smartphone camera from the intended scanning distance, thereby enhancing its functionality and user experience.

For a comprehensive understanding of QR code sizing and to master the basics effectively, check out our QR Code Size Guide

Neglecting Error Correction in QR Code Design

Four error correction levels of QR code

A commonly overlooked aspect in QR code creation is the level of error correction integrated into the design. Error correction is a critical feature determining a QR code’s resilience to damage or distortion.

Error correction allows the QR Code to remain scannable even if a portion of it is partially obscured or damaged. 

QR codes come with four levels of error correction – Low (L) – 7%, Medium (M)- 15%, Quartile (Q) – 25%, and High (H) – 30%. Each level provides a greater degree of resilience at the cost of reducing the storage capacity of the QR code.

The selection of an error correction level should align with the QR code’s intended use and exposure risk. QR Codes in high-wear or outdoor environments need higher error correction, while those in controlled settings may require less. Inadequate error correction can lead to QR code failures in crucial situations, making the right choice essential for effective and reliable QR code usage.

Using Poor Contrast and Colour Choices

The effectiveness of a QR code is significantly influenced by its contrast and colour choices. Incorrect selections can render a QR code difficult to scan, negating its purpose. 

While colourful QR codes are visually appealing, it’s crucial to prioritise scannability. The traditional black-on-white background remains the most reliable for ensuring readability.

If opting for colours, maintaining a high contrast between the code and its background is essential. Avoid using backgrounds with gradients, patterns, or images, as they can hinder the scanning process. A simple, solid, and light-coloured background is always the best choice.

Here are some effective colour combinations for QR codes:

  • Dark Blue on Light Grey
  • Forest Green on Cream
  • Rich Brown on Light Blue
  • Slate Grey on Ivory

Ignoring Wi-Fi Accessibility

Dynamic QR codes, sometimes even static ones, link to content that requires a stable Internet connection for operation. For instance, QR codes used for payment purposes outside shops rely on an active internet connection to process transactions. Without internet access, payment apps linked to these QR codes will fail to function.

Therefore, it’s essential to consider the connectivity environment where the QR code will be used and ensure that users have the necessary Internet access to engage with the QR code’s content or services. This foresight can prevent frustration and ensure a seamless user experience. 

Linking to Non-Mobile-Friendly Destinations

Linking QR codes to websites not optimised for mobile devices is a significant misstep.

QR codes are mostly scanned with smartphones, so their linked content must be mobile-friendly. Non-optimised sites can lead to poor loading times and difficult navigation, frustrating users.

To avoid this, ensure the QR code’s destination is responsive and loads quickly on mobile devices. Also, the linked page should be easy to navigate on a small screen, with touch-friendly elements and readable text.

Lack of Clear Call-to-Action or Explanation

Three things to do to effectively address the issue of confusion

A common yet critical mistake in QR code usage is the absence of a clear call-to-action (CTA) or explanation. This oversight can lead to confusion and missed opportunities, often resulting in low engagement rates, as users are left guessing its intent.

To effectively address this, you should do the following:

Incorporate a Direct CTA

Include a simple, straightforward instruction or invitation near the QR code. This could be a prompt like “Scan to learn more” or “Scan for a special offer.”

Explain the Benefit

Clearly articulate what the user gains from scanning the QR code. This could be access to exclusive content, a discount, or a convenient service.

Provide Scanning Instructions

For users less familiar with QR codes, brief instructions on how to scan can increase participation. This can be as simple as “Open your camera and point it here.”

Choosing Poor Design and Placement

The design and placement of QR codes are pivotal factors that significantly influence their usability and effectiveness. A QR code that is both well-designed and strategically placed maximises scannability and visibility, ensuring a seamless user experience.

Here’s a streamlined approach to mastering this aspect:

Clarity in Design

While customising the design of a QR code offers a unique branding opportunity, it’s imperative to prioritise clarity. Complex or overly decorative designs can impede the code’s scannability. 

The most effective QR codes maintain a simple structure that guarantees functionality across various scanning devices. Avoid intricate patterns or excessive embellishments that could lead to scanning difficulties, thereby diminishing the code’s utility in transmitting information. Opting for a clear, straightforward design is key to achieving the best results.

Accessible Placement

The physical placement of QR codes is just as important as their design. To ensure easy accessibility, position QR codes at a comfortable eye level and in locations free from obstructions. 

This approach guarantees that the codes are visible and conveniently scannable by users.

Environmentally Conscious Placement

In addition to placement, environmental factors play a crucial role in QR code visibility. This includes considering the lighting conditions and the immediate surroundings where the QR code will be displayed. 

A dark QR code set against a light background is typically the most effective in brightly lit areas. Conversely, a lighter QR code on a dark background can enhance visibility in dimmer settings. By taking these elements into account, you can significantly improve the practicality and user-friendliness of your QR codes.

Our article, QR Code Best Practices, will come in handy when designing QR Codes. 

Choosing Unsuitable Printing Materials

Selecting the wrong materials for QR code printing can significantly impact their functionality, affecting scannability and durability. A streamlined approach to ensuring optimal choices includes:

  • Avoid glossy or metallic finishes, as they can create glare, making QR codes hard to scan. Opt for matte materials to prevent this issue.
  • Textured surfaces like fabric, wood, and metal distort the QR code, leading to scanning errors. Smooth materials ensure the code’s clarity and uniformity.
  • If your QR code is displayed outdoors, choose materials such as UV-resistant plastics, weatherproof laminated paper, or durable metals like aluminium to ensure longevity and readability even in challenging environmental conditions.  

Printing QR Codes

Thermal printing stands out as the optimal choice for printing QR codes, primarily due to its precision and durability. This method ensures that even the most intricate details of a QR code are sharply defined, which is crucial for accurate scanning. Additionally, thermal prints are less susceptible to smudging or fading over time, making them ideal for QR codes that withstand various environmental conditions.

At Triton, we specialise in providing top-tier thermal printing solutions. Our extensive selection features leading brands like Epson, Element, Senor, Honeywell, Zebra, TSC, and OKI’s vibrant colour label printers, catering to a wide range of business needs.

Our thermal label offerings are diverse, ranging from sturdy industrial printers to space-saving desktop printers. We also provide direct thermal printers, thermal transfer printers, barcode label printers, mobile printers, and receipt printers, ensuring a fit for every business requirement.

Moreover, Triton is your go-to source for high-quality thermal printer consumables, essential for producing top-notch QR code labels. Our inventory includes thermal transfer ribbons, thermal labels, thermal carton labels, thermal carcase tags, food-compliant thermal inserts, receipt rolls, and shipping & freight labels

Whether you’re upgrading your current setup or embarking on a new venture, Triton Store is your comprehensive destination for thermal printing solutions. Our team of experts is readily available via our live chat widget to provide personalised service and support, ensuring you find the perfect fit for your specific needs.

Not Testing QR Codes Before Deployment

Forgetting to Test QR Codes Before Deployment

One of the most common oversights in using QR codes is the failure to conduct adequate testing before deployment. This lapse can lead to compatibility issues and a subpar user experience.

To circumvent these problems, it’s imperative to rigorously test QR codes across a range of devices and operating systems. This ensures their universal functionality and compatibility. Additionally, evaluating their scannability under various lighting conditions and from different angles is crucial to addressing potential real-world usage challenges.

It’s also vital to verify that the content linked to the QR code is easily accessible. Regular re-testing is essential for QR codes that link to dynamic content to maintain their functionality. Overlooking these testing steps can result in QR codes that fail to function properly, leading to user frustration and diminishing the effectiveness of your campaign or initiative.

For comprehensive guidance on QR code testing, our article, QR Code Test, offers a variety of methods and a detailed step-by-step process for effective QR code testing. This resource is designed to help you ensure your QR codes perform optimally in real-world scenarios.

Overlooking Security Measures

While static QR codes, once generated, are relatively secure, dynamic QR codes require additional security considerations. 

One fundamental security measure is using HTTPS protocols for QR codes that link to websites or online content. This ensures that any data transferred via the QR code is encrypted, protecting user information from potential interception or hacking.

Refraining from embedding sensitive information directly within the QR code is also crucial. Since QR codes can be scanned by anyone, embedding private data can lead to security vulnerabilities.

Not Updating Content Regularly

A key advantage of dynamic QR codes is their flexibility in content updates, a feature often underutilised. Unlike static QR codes, which are fixed once created, dynamic QR codes allow the linked content to be refreshed without altering the code. However, a frequent oversight is the failure to update this content regularly.

To maintain user interest and engagement, it’s essential to periodically update the content linked to your dynamic QR codes. This could involve:

  • Introducing New Promotions: Regularly incorporate new offers or discounts to keep your audience intrigued and coming back for more.
  • Sharing Latest Updates: Use the dynamic QR code to provide the most current information, whether it’s news, product updates, or service enhancements.
  • Providing Access to New Resources: Continuously update the linked content with fresh digital resources, such as guides or exclusive content.

Failing to Track and Analyse Performance

A significant oversight in using dynamic QR codes is the failure to track and analyse their performance. This feature, unique to dynamic QR codes, is crucial for understanding user engagement and the overall success of your campaign. Without analytics, you lose valuable insights into how users interact with your QR codes, missing out on opportunities to optimise content and user experience. 

You can gather essential data on scan frequencies, user demographics, and engagement trends by implementing tracking tools such as Google Analytics. This information is key to making informed decisions, refining your strategy, and ensuring your QR codes effectively meet your audience’s needs. 

Three things that can be tracked with Dynamic QR codes

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the Consequences of Poorly Sized QR Codes?

Poorly sized QR codes can lead to scanning challenges, making them non-functional. Users will struggle to scan them accurately, leading to frustration and reduced engagement.

Why Is Contrast Important in QR Code Design?

Contrast is crucial in QR code design because it allows QR scanners to easily differentiate and read the code’s patterns. 

How Can I Make Sure My QR Code's Call-To-Action Is Clear and Users Understand Its Purpose?

You can incorporate a direct CTA near the QR code, clearly articulate the benefit of scanning, and provide scanning instructions for those less familiar with QR codes.

Is It Necessary to Track and Analyse the Performance of QR Codes, and What Insights Can Be Gained From This Data?

Tracking and analysing the performance of QR codes, especially dynamic ones, is essential to measure success. It provides insights into user behaviour, demographics, and engagement patterns, helping refine strategies and enhance user experience.

Summing Up

In conclusion, QR codes are a key link between our real world and digital spaces. How well they work depends not just on making them but also on really understanding and using them the right way.

A good QR code is well-designed, put in the right place, and kept up-to-date. It’s also important to ensure they’re safe and protect people’s privacy. As we keep using these small but powerful tools, it’s important to remember that their success comes from their quality, how well they work with different devices, and thinking about the people using them. 

By avoiding common mistakes and following these good practices, QR codes can be more than just handy; they can open up new ways for us to interact with technology.

We hope this article was useful. 

Thanks for reading. 

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