Why QR Codes?
I think QR codes are a fun and quick way to access a piece of information. When I was first playing with the idea of researching the usability of QR codes for my master's thesis, I asked friends about how they felt, and the answers ranged from absolutely hating them to thinking they have a futuristic feel to them. This made me more interested to try to understand why people would hate QR codes!
While we may be able to recognize QR codes, we still encounter barriers to scanning them. Even before the scanning process, it's important to understand the feelings and intentions behind the process which in turn could prevent a user from scanning the QR code.
Did you know...?
QR codes were created in 1994
QR codes are used for a variety of reasons, and in countries where QR code usage is high, it is typically used for marketing purposes and for mobile payments. CNN Business reported that in 2016, China’s QR code usage for transactions amounted to over 1.5 trillion USD (Wang, 2017). From the Technology Acceptance Model (TAM), it is important to understand the perceptions of and attitudes toward QR codes because this can determine whether or not a user will scan the QR code (Charness, 2016).
My literature review focused on three points:
Charness, N., & Boot, W. R. (2016). Technology, gaming, and social networking. Handbook of the psychology of aging (pp. 389–407). Elsevier.
Wang, S. (2017, September 8). Why China can’t get enough of QR codes. CNN Business. Retrieved from https://money.cnn.com/2017/09/08/technology/china- qr-codes/index.html
A subset of related questions were translated into project goals, which were
For the survey, I used Qualtrics since the service is already provided to the school for use at no cost and it also offers analytical features. The survey questions were structured to gather data for the project goals and asked
Sample & Recruitment
The sample was a convenience sample of students who attended college at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Emails were sent through listservs to different departments and the University’s MassMail for participant recruitment. Participants also had the opportunity to be entered into a drawing to receive compensation of $10 for completing the survey. To maintain anonymity of the participants, it was noted to participants that once the study was completed and the contact information is no longer needed, the names and contact information would be permanently deleted.
These were the following recruitment requirements:
Let's check out the quantitative and qualitative analysis from the results of the survey!
This question was particularly important because depending on the user's answer, it would qualify the participant for recruitment into the second half of my study. Users who had an Apple device would have been randomly selected for participation in the second half of the study since the device was compatible for screen recording by connection through the iPhone lightning cord while the user completed the task of scanning a QR code.
The users were asked to rate the following statements (in green) using a 7-point Likert Scale
Originally the study was supposed to have two phases, phase one which was the survey to gather a generalized understanding of the perceptions of QR codes, and phase two which was going to be a usability study asking participants to think-aloud while completing the task of scanning a QR code. Due to time limitations and the COVID-19 pandemic, the scope of the study had to be reduced to only recruiting participants for the first phase. The study was completed in April 2020.
Revisiting my hypothesis that participants who have previously used a QR code are more likely to have a positive perception of QR codes, I found that of the 167 participants who have used a QR code
From the follow-up question asking participants to explain why they did not like QR codes, many reported that they did not have a QR code scanner app, did not want to download the app, do not seem useful, or they preferred to type in the link or search for it online. According to Ratna (Ratna, 2020), Apple updated the iPhone in 2017 to have a native QR code scanner within the camera app, and the Android 8, which also came out in 2017, has native QR scanning capabilities. If the study would have been able to deploy the second phase (usability study), the think-aloud may have been able to capture the feelings and possible misunderstandings of how users go through the process of scanning QR codes.
Ratna, S. (2020, April 21). How to scan QR codes with Android phones (With Pictures): Android 9, Android 8 and below. Beaconstac. Retrieved April 22, 2020, from https://blog.beaconstac.com/2019/03/how-to-scan-qr-codes-with-android-phones/
Check out my other projects
Guided navigation of COVID-19 resources considering the user's wellbeing
Rethinking the process of submitting online reviews so it's quick, fun, and rewarding