While creating a new user experience for prospective students at Ravensbourne university, we noticed a big disconnect in a very common (and increasingly key) user journey – QR codes to mobiles.

This one didn’t work.

A Bit About QR Codes

Greg hates QR codes. Really hates them. I don’t think they’re great, but they serve a purpose as a sort of stop-gap before something better (and as universal) comes along to connect the physical world with the digital one. A user wants to find out more than can be shown attractively on a printed ad, or sign up to something advertised – scanning the code is quicker than typing a URL into a phone while standing in front of a billboard in the rain.

QR codes are becoming more widely accepted, as well as recognised for what they are by the non-techie public. They’re on most billboards, printed adverts, products and product receipts and a user interfaces with them using their mobile. That’s where the convenience ends though, since most QR codes (if they work) take a user to a web page that is very hard to navigate and/or load on a mobile device. Why would anyone trust a code when the content it serves will be difficult to handle?

It’s like wanting to look at something closely, and someone handing you a magnifying glass the wrong way round.

Hopefully this will improve over time as responsive web design becomes more of a standard. James has written a really nice post about that here. It feels good to know that a website you’ve built will work wherever.

Making Information Work Well Everywhere

The Ravensbourne Digital Prospectus was the first project where we got to create a smooth user experience that starts in print and continues on a mobile device. The printed prospectus used by the university already had QR codes in the template but these directed the user to large undigestible web pages.

Not mobile optimised

We put a stop to that using responsive web design. The content changes according to the device it’s being displayed on. With mobile, the information is stacked, and the text size large enough to be easily read on a small screen.

Better.

While we didn’t design the Digital Prospectus ‘mobile first’, we did design the desktop experience to be smooth, helpful and clear. Printed material and QR codes being scanned by mobile devices is an important user journey, and now it’s as smooth and helpful and clear as it can be.

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