Printed QR codes vs. digital QR codes

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Many who know me are fully aware of my disdain of QR codes. Yes, I can think of at least one use for them: embedding a lot of contact information into one, printed on a business card, allowing me to quickly set up a contact in my iPhone by way of importing a vCard. This method would be significantly faster than manually entering a name, e-mail address, web address, phone number, fax number, physical address, ad nauseum.

vCards aside, nearly all QR code use that I encounter is simply pushing a web address. I know some people disagree, but I can generally always open my iPhone web browser and tap out a URL faster than I can open a QR scanner, wait for the camera to wake up, scan the code, wait for translation, tap the link, switch to the web browser, and let it load. And before someone asks something like, what about long URLs such as — My response: if you’re marketing a URL that’s any more than, then you’re doing it wrong.

Fine, some people like scanning QR codes, so I acknowledge that I’ll be seeing those ugly squares (a graphic designer’s nightmare) printed all over stuff for a long time to come. Doesn’t mean I have to scan them.

But now, these wretched abominations are creeping into venues they have no business in. The whole point of them is to bridge the physical world with the digital world—providing a means on a physical piece of paper to connect you to something online. Lately, however, I’m seeing them incorporated into social media profiles and such. Most recent example is Firehouse Subs’ Twitter page. They’ve got two of them on their background image pointing to their mobile apps for iOS and Android. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some Firehouse sandwiches. Yet, QR codes on web pages is, as I commented to them on Twitter, simply ridonkulous.

Completely bypassing the fact that Twitter profile content covers over these QR codes unless you have your browser window stretched wider than the Mississippi River, I’m already online!!!! Just give me a link to click or tap!!

Firehouse Subs QR Codes on Twitter

Put another way, providing a QR code on a web page to take someone to another web page (digital to analog and back to digital) is like recording a music CD to audiocassette and then digitizing it back to a new CD! Inasmuch as a CD can be directly/digitally/perfectly duplicated to another CD, can we please kill the appearance of QR codes on web pages and just provide clickable links!?

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