How to be successful with QR codes

Posted on 12/12/2013

A new feature on ViewRanger is the ability to generate your own QR codes from routes.

Andrew Kerry-Bedell_caption.jpg.png

Many people are still unfamiliar with these square black and white codes, which now appear frequently on tickets, leaflets and posters, so we asked Andrew Kerry-Bedell of Mobi-Scan to give us some tips on how to use QR codes successfully.

QR codes are printed codes, often used on tickets and posters, which can be scanned using a free smartphone app that and will immediately take the user to a specific route guide within the ViewRanger app.

Route owners can print the unique QR code in their leaflets to make it easy for people wanting to follow the route to download it to their phone and have access to a good clear map and active GPS navigation.

Andrew was involved in a project to put 100 QR codes on signage on the South Downs Trail in the National South Downs National Park.

Research before implementation suggested that uptake might be limited, but in fact the project was very successful and demonstrated that most people with a smartphone are prepared to have a go at using the QR codes. The South Downs team were delighted with the result and have now added even more codes.

Andrew says that to be successful with QR codes you did need to follow some basic principles:

1. User education is important.

Masons Arms_QR code_caption.pngOur recent research has shown that although 85 per cent of people now recognise a QR code and know what it does, the biggest hurdle is getting them to scan one.  Once someone has successfully scanned a code, they get the bug and are very happy to use this method of getting information.  So make sure that your instructions on what QR codes are, what they link to and the benefits of scanning them are clear.


2. Check that you have a mobile signal. 

QR codes work well on signage to link a place in the real world with information online.  You can include photographs and even video on a website of online page that would be prohibitively expensive to display another way, and that can be easily updated.  However, do check that if someone scans the code they can get a mobile signal to access the web-based information.


3. Make the website mobile friendly. 

The screens on smartphones and tablets are a smaller size and format than computer screens and also the menus, text and images need to be optimised for display on a mobile.  Rather than click from one screen to another people scroll down quickly, spending no more than a minute or two on a mobile web page.  If you don’t have a website that is optimised for mobile devices it can be very frustrating for users.


4. Make the code big enough.

One of the biggest issues with QR is that people print them far too small. There are over 100 different QR readers and many older phones have built-in cameras that have low resolution, so codes need to be clear and big enough so all mobiles can scan them successfully. We would recommend 3cm x 3cm square to be a minimum size for any printed QR code.

5. Check the code is working correctly

From the links from the QR code you will be able to gain a lot of information about when the codes are accessed and which web content is most interesting.  But the code does need to be created as a mobile campaign so it can be picked up by your website analytics, so it is worth double-checking you have set up your QR code campaign correctly.


More information on QR codes and the South Downs QR code research can be found at the website

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