Mobile QR codes

Sydney Design QR code wrap up – so did anyone use it?

A little while ago I blogged about an experiment we were doing with QR codes.

In summary, we placed a QR code in the back of the Sydney Design 08 festival programme which gave access to a discount voucher for the festival and ensured free entry to the Museum during the event.

The big question is, did anyone use it?

Before I tell you let’s look at a couple of ‘problems’ with what we did. These were barriers to participation that we had underestimated.

Firstly, the QR code itself was printed at a size that required a ‘decent’ cameraphone to scan it effectively. A lot of people with iPhones found that the size of the code itself didn’t work well with the 2mp iPhone camera. This would, of course, have been alleviated had the code appeared large on all street posters as well – but would have required integration into the visual design of the posters too – so that it did not dominate the design. Anyone who has seen Telstra’s QR campaign will know that the code is the poster.

Second, the QR code itself linked to a URL that was not optimised for mobile. This was made more problematic because the iPhone (currently the only mobile with a decent web browser) couldn’t read the code properly. Viewing the linked site on Opera on a Nokia, for example, made for a lot of annoying scrolling to complete the form to get your free pass.

Third, the application to read QR codes is not prominently available on most phones. Even on my recent model Nokia it is, by default, buried under Applications / Office / Barcode Reader.

This third problem will resolve itself in time and over that time, too, as mobile data charges drop more sites will become optimised for mobile viewing resolving problem two. In fact, we did use a WordPress plugin to ‘convert’ the Sydney Design site to be ‘mobile friendly’ as a test – but this really needs a manual touch.

So digging in to the stats we find –

144 views of the QR destination page
– 13 on Symbian devices, 3 on iPhone, rest of Windows versions or Safari versions
– 55 from Sydney and the rest interstate or overseas

33 successful form completions
26 successful ticket prints

Unfortunately we don’t have any figures on whether any of these 26 printouts were actually presented at the door of the Museum and redeemed.

Is this successful? For zero financial outlay this was always going to be a trial. We’ve learnt quite a lot about QR codes and their potential through doing this and we will certainly be experimenting more with them.

We know that there were several factors that meant we didn’t do this optimally, but we also know that QR code usage in Sydney is, understandably, low. We are probably still 3-5 years away from widespread public adoption and understanding – and beyond marketing we are still waiting for a ‘killer app’ to drive usage.

4 replies on “Sydney Design QR code wrap up – so did anyone use it?”

Thanks for that report – we know we know that we’re still way ahead of the curve but we’ve added or are adding some QR code to a local tourism operator’s street sign and the window of a local store that sees a lot of tourist traffic to see what happens.

Many of the tourists up this way are backpackers from Europe so it will be interesting to see the stats.

(edited by admin)

well of course you are 3 years away from widespread use if you implement crappy campaigns like this – why would you ever send a mobile to a non-mobile optimised page.

Also how are you tracking your analytics without usign a mobile specific analytics tool?

It’s a shame you did do any other of the qr commnds apart from url hyperlink.

Hopefully you can do better next time.


Great round-up Seb, thanks. It’s good to have some insight on what sort of activities users are willing to get up to on their phones with a bit of incentive added. Can you contextualize this story with an idea of how many attendees there were or how many programmes were distributed?

Nice one Seb. It’s actually quite sobering to hear how far away the infrastructure really is in order to make these mobile projects successfull! Still, it’s a good time to experiment! I feel like I did in the late 90s/ early 00s when we talked community participation but couldn’t actually do it online! Even this will pass! Well done!

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