The Death of the QR Code

by Jenn Wilson


QR codes, short for “Quick Response,” showed up in the Japanese automotive industry back in 1994. Then, about six years ago, they started showing up EVERYWHERE—magazine ads, packaging, t- shirts, posters, coffee mugs, billboards, buses—the list goes on. The reality was, even while these codes were being plastered on every surface, very few people actually used them. Now that the craze has died down, even fewer people bother to scan them. To be honest, I’ve probably scanned one QR code by choice (and it was only to see how they worked). I downloaded a QR reader, then deleted it a few months later. I’ve avoided scanning another QR code ever since because downloading the app again seemed like too much of a hassle. Sound familiar?

Here’s why QR codes should (and probably will) die:

1. Apple, Android, and Windows have never released a phone with a preloaded QR reader. That means taking time (probably while you’re standing in front of some random QR code surrounded by screaming children in the middle of a grocery store) to search through the app store, find the best app, and actually download it. After opening the app, figuring out how it works, and scanning the code, you’ve probably forgotten what you were trying to do in the first place. You realize it would have been so much easier to just type in the url located next to the code. In the example below, five steps could easily have been one single step:

QRcode image1


2. QR codes can be a security risk. You don’t know what you’re scanning until you’ve already scanned it. These codes can be tampered with and may include dangerous malware that can access private information on your phone like contacts, passwords, recent transactions, and privacy settings. Ew.

3. From a design standpoint, they’re pretty ugly. They take up valuable space and, in most cases, disrupt the flow in a design. Why use a blocky graphic when a nicely typeset url or contact info will do the same job?

4. Recently, I discovered a new unfortunate side-effect of the QR code—expired links. What happens if the website you’ve linked your QR code to goes down? Heinz knows. For the full story, scan this QR code. Just kidding. Go to this link.

QR codes had a good run, but I think it is time to move forward with technology. Let’s embrace the future and leave QR codes in the past. If you feel the urge to use them, please see the helpful flow chart below:

QRcode image2


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One Response

  1. Bob S says:

    Thanks. I’ve been wondering whether I should download the QR reader app and what I’ve been missing. Now I feel better about not knowing what I’ve been missing all along! 🙂

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