Monday, 9 May 2011

Forget 3D, we're just discovering 2D. Badly.

Where does it go? Smartphones at
the ready...
You may have been puzzled by the rather strange looking blobs, like the one on the right, that are regularly appearing wherever you look these days. I've spotted them on products, on advertising on the tube, in on-screen graphics on the TV - all over the place.

These are often called QR codes - and are nothing more or less than two dimensional barcodes. Typically they point you to a website, so that you can find out more information about a product or advertisement.

If you have a smartphone, just download a free QR/2D barcode reader and you can pick up the code with the phone's camera and pop straight to a website without bothering to type in that fiddly URL. The idea, which seems reasonable, is that you are more likely to follow up links that aren't clickable this way.

This is all very well and fine (and if you have a smartphone, you are welcome to have a go at my 2D barcode here - it is a genuine one). However there is one thing that I think the designers of these blobs got wrong. They are so ugly! Why couldn't they have made them look smart? If they had been all swirly and interesting they would look suitably sci-fi. As it is they look like a badly conceived, highly pixellated, black and white Pacman game.

Worse still, the designers of adverts who are forced to incorporate QR codes really haven't got the hang of using them. Time after time on the tube I saw nicely designed adverts totally ruined by plonking a QR code randomly (so it seemed) on the page. Please think, designer people. You wouldn't do this with a company's logo. Put the QR code where it fits with the design - for example you could have a greyscale bar across the advert that features the QR code in it like the buckle on a belt. Or make it look as if it's a label hanging from a product. Or... well, anything that stops it look like something stuck on afterwards by a sticker freak.

You know it makes sense.

2D barcode generated by Kaywa

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