Qfuse Blog - QR Code, NFC, and Mobile Marketing News

How Not to Use QR Codes: One Source Water

Posted on by

One Source WaterI was at my office today when I noticed the new water bubbler that has been installed in our kitchen.  The water bubbler was from One Source Water, it looked very sleek in all black mirror like material, and the water came out smooth and fast, a beautiful machine for sure.  Then I noticed what stuck on this sexy black outer shell was a sticker with the contact info for the company and next to the contact info a QR code.  Obviously I was intrigued—clearly not because of the non-existent call to action— and had to scan the code.  Not shockingly the code made it to the Qfuse blog about how NOT to use QR codes.

Obviously the first problem here is the lack of a call to action.  Who would possibly desire to scan this code on a water bubbler with no explanation as to what benefit they would receive?  No one, of course.  The only reason I scanned the code is because I write about QR code on this blog.  My guess is I was one of only a handful of people to ever scan the code, the others likely being some other nerds who work for a similarly tech-related company and also have the One Source Water bubbler in their office.  There is a 100% chance they were as disappointed as I once they scanned the code.

The next issue I have with the code, and the biggest issue, is that when you scan the code you end up at an error page.  Seriously?  Why bother using a QR code if you aren’t going to connect it to anything?  This sort of thing is infuriating.  It gives QR codes a bad name and helps convince the people that do scan your code to never scan another code after this.  As terrible as it is, at least have it connect back to your company website.  Anything is better than an error page.

Once Source Water1Lastly, and unfortunately the most common problem I see with QR codes, is that they direct the user to a desktop website rather than a mobile optimized site.  You know the person has to be on their mobile device if they are scanning the code, so why would you make them go to a non-mobile website?  Are you trying to ensure them a miserable experience?  Because it sure seems that way.

This is example by One Source Water is a perfect illustration of how not to use QR codes and how they really can be just a huge waste, and in the meantime hurting QR codes for everyone else.  In this case the QR code provides no value, it is poorly done, and not even really functional.  Either it should never have been used or it should have been used with a clear purpose in mind.  Sticking useless QR codes on everything only ruins QR codes for the people who use them correctly.

For anyone out there considering using QR codes for whatever purpose they deem appropriate, please do not do what One Source Water did here, make sure your code serves an end for yourself and/or your consumer, make sure it functions as it should, and make sure people know what the reason for its existence is.  Do these things and your QR code campaign is sure to do well.  Otherwise I’ll be the only one scanning your code and it’s a good chance you end up being written about on this blog.