Wednesday, September 14, 2011

No one makes a list of web sites to visit before they die

Remember that it's so important to focus on the value that end users will receive, whatever your product - even if it's "only" a web site.

A contemporary example of getting things the wrong way round is QR Codes: they are useful in tracking items through a supply chain, especially in situations where RFID tags are not appropriate, and the barrier to entry is really low: you can get started with a black and white printer and a free or cheap smartphone app.

But when they're offered to end users as part of a brand's marketing campaign, they're solving a problem for the marketer, not the end user.

Do we really expect a user to download an app; start it; scan a code; then wait for some random content to be pushed to them? If the code links only to a regular website then it's not likely to be a great browsing experience on the smartphone; and if they've scanned the code from an ad on the subway or London Tube then they won't have Internet access to reach the content anyway. When they do get the content, will they be glad they did? If it's just another ad then probably not.

There are just so many more intuitive and easy ways for users to get the content that they want. Meanwhile, the QR Code in this scenario is really only benefiting the campaign manager who wants to track real time viewing statistics; and users are tired of giving up measurement info for such small reward.

So, focus on what users want, and will benefit from. They're not sitting around compiling a list of websites they want to visit and ads they want to 'experience' before they die. Build and deliver something that helps your users to live better instead.
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  1. Hi Mike,

    I completely agree that QR codes are getting a bad press due to lack of marketing value for the user.

    Just like social media can be used to simply broadcast, the same message should be made clear for the QR code.

    I don't think the device is to blame but marketer are.

    You shouldn't create a smartphone app just because it's the newfangled thing to be seen to have. You need to have a reason that's actually going to give value to the end user.

    Some good examples of QR code use are:

    Tesco Korea virtual subway store

    Central Park 'World Park' campaign

    Brickhampton Golf course 'how to' tips

    All these examples actually provide something of value to the user other than broadcast messages.

    The more QR codes grow in popularity, and in-built scanners added to more phones as standard, the less clunky a journey it will be. Once you've downloaded one scanner app, you don't need to do it for the next code you scan.


  2. Thanks, Emily: I think we are in agreement! I really like your examples of good QR Code use. I use them myself, when appropriate, and think they can be pretty useful. We just have to remember to consider our offerings from the user's needs/perspective and that's really all I was trying to say with this blog post today.

  3. Well, in that case, I wholeheartedly concur :)