I’ve had several emails, tweets and general interest in more information about our QR code experiment so here’s some more information.
Firstly, it has to be said that the experiment was sub-optimal. We made mistakes – but I think that making mistakes in order to learn from them is something Australians (and museums) need to get a lot more comfortable with doing. I’ve outlined several of them already – the QR code was printed too small for low resolution cameras, and the URL to visit wasn’t optimised for mobile web browsers, etc. But does this, alone, explain the usage rates? I think not.
Secondly, it also needs to be said the campaign had a total cost of zero. We did not engage an ‘interactive agency’ (which is where some of the interest in our experiment has come from). The QR code was self generated and the idea of the experiment was to see what the actual take up of QR codes might be if completely umprompted.
Thirdly, the ‘incentive’ for bothering to use the QR code – free passes etc – may not have been great enough, especially if scanning the code the first time didn’t work for you.
Remembering that the Sydney Design 08 programme which contained the QR code had a run of 40,000 copies and was distributed widely across Sydney the ‘conversion’ rate of the experiment needs to be calculated in light of that – not just counting those who visited the ‘secret’ website after scanning the code.
Now it isn’t that simple of course – even someone with a QR capable phone with Sydney Design 08 programme in the hand needs is not necessarily going to bother scanning a code.
We are certainly going to do more experiments with QR codes – there is a lot of potential in them – and we are hoping that others will also make available the results of their trials. The sort of work the Tate is doing with their mobile/handheld wiki for the museum community is the kind of openness and knowledge sharing that needs to be more widespread.