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An Ad Leaflet QR Design Mistake

published icon  |  category icon braindump

tags icon design QR codes

Time for another design mistake. An upcoming trend: QR codes in physical ad leaflets delivered by mail, devoid of other contextual information. After all, one has to keep up with the latest and greatest. Consider the following partial ad of a local Mac store (in Dutch):

Aha, a QR code! What do I do?

The Blue text balloon ‘Ontek ze allemaal op onze website…' (Discover them all on our website… ) points to a QR code you can scan with your smartphone. Which website? The domain name is effectively encoded—thus, hidden—within the QR rectangle. Note the ample white space. Were the advertisers scared that lab9.be (7 characters!) somehow wouldn’t fit?

What if I want to use my laptop/computer to look at their online store? That doesn’t have a QR scan “app”.

What if—gasp—I don’t have a smartphone? Surely you must be joking Wouter, this is a tech ad aimed at techies with money! That might be true, but I’ve seen the same thing appear in social union party leaflets, in articles on social health and well-being targeted at anyone. Well, at least apparently targeted at anyone capable of deciphering a weird rectangle with lots of small black dots.

What if I’m just too lazy to open up the QR scan app and just want to write down the URL?

Please, I Am Begging You, No More QR Codes. They’re not only invading restaurants (at first to promote contact-less ordering, now just to be cool), they’re also a great way to fool inattentive users:

Meanwhile, the increased proliferation of these horrible little boxes is an actual, tangible threat. QR-code related scams abound, yet another vector for phishing schemes targeting your grandparents. QR codes have also been used recently as a means for vacuuming up yet more data about our habits and feeding them into the vast network of algorithms that track our every move. Escaping this system that stalks us on virtually every app is impossible, of course. But can’t we get even one respite from this regime when we’re ordering fries?

The article focuses on the claimed advantages of using QR in relation to hygiene. But a printed leaflet in our mailbox has nothing to do with COVID and everything with design agency stupidity. If you really want to, why not print both? And after that, why not realize the QR thing is not only redundant but also ugly and wasteful ink-wise?

This reminds me a bit of link shorteners, except this time it’s even worse, since my eyes can’t read QR. Now that would be something, wouldn’t it?

To me, the quick response (lol) code is yet another useless computing invention.

I'm Wouter Groeneveld, a Brain Baker, and I love the smell of freshly baked thoughts (and bread) in the morning. I sometimes convince others to bake their brain (and bread) too.

If you found this article amusing and/or helpful, you can buy me a coffee - although I'm more of a tea fan myself. I also like to hear your feedback via Mastodon or e-mail. Thanks!