How not to use QR codes: three examples

I have been keeping a small eye on QR codes recently and come across a couple of examples of how not to use them.

Exhibit one: The Tate Britain.

They currently have a great exhibition on about Eadweard Muybridge. Just before the entrance they have some introductory text on the wall. Underneath this there is a QR code. I tried scanning the code which is fine. However the mobile phone reception is quite poor since this part of the Tate is a bit below ground level etc. I tried another network and also could not get the code to jump to the relevant content.

Tip one: make sure the mobile phone reception is good where the QR code is positioned.

Exhibit two: The Metro free newspaper.

Yesterday in the Metro page 2 there was an advert from the Carphone Warehouse for the Experia phone. At the bottom left there is a QR code. I tried scanning it and it did not work. The reason why is the very poor quality of the print/reproduction.

Tip two: check the quality of the print in traditional media and that the code works.  

Exhibit three: a digital business card.

I was at an event recently and a contact showed me his business card which had a QR code to load his details straight onto my phone. The code worked fine. However once the content was on my phone it was quite difficult to work out how to save the contact details.

Tip three: make sure the content goes where you expect it on a phone – maybe test it first on popular devices.






The Whitehall WordPress economy

Yesterday I attended the excellent Whitehall Word up event about how WordPress is being used in central government organised by Simon Dickson @simond and hosted by BIS. Others will be covering the more technical aspects of the event however something else struck me. This was how the event highlighted the workings of the free market economy.

One of the selling points of WordPress is that is it free, i.e there are no licence fees to pay to software providers and probably lot less involvement of traditional in-house IT contractors.

However as some technical expertese/advice is always useful a number of (very) small companies are in the market and have been helping Departments in beneficial ways. Some of these were present at this very friendly meeting. It was clear that they all have slightly different offerings and have attempted to solve different issues. I also suspected that they were all sizing each other up and presumably working out if they should offer the same service as one of the other companies or mimic their solutions.

This is a good thing! It is called competition and I think it is extremely helpful and this friendly competition will allow these companies to keep developing new and innovative solutions for government. What we must not do is stifle it by onerous tendering procedures that add to their overheads and as a result raise prices.