UX Researcher and Survey Designer
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).
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
The goals of my study were
SAMPLE & RECRUITMENT
The sample was a convenience sample, consisting of college students 18 and older, both undergraduate and graduate, on the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s campus. This project was reviewed by the UNC Institutional Review Board, IRB Study # 19-3219 and determined to be exempt from federal human subjects research regulations prior to distribution of the survey.
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. After the study was completed and the contact information is no longer needed, the names and contact information was permanently deleted to maintain anonymity of the participants.
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 questions ask for age, department, international vs. non-international student, and questions on a 5-point Likert scale to ask about perceived ease of use, usefulness, attitudes, and future intent.
Data Analysis & Results
A total of 196 students participated in the survey, 34.7% (n = 68) of which were graduate students (n=128) and 65.3% of which were undergraduate students. 80.6% (n = 158) of participants identified as “Female”, 15.8% (n = 31) as “Male”, 3.1% (n = 6) as “Other” with 4 participants who wrote in Non-Binary, and 0.5% (n = 1) chose not to disclose their gender.
To gauge intent and possibly future use, we asked participants if they liked using QR codes and why or why not. Over one-third (37%, n = 72) of participants indicated that they did not like using QR codes, while 63% (n = 124) reported that they liked using QR codes. When asked to explain why they liked using QR codes, the most popular sentiments were because they were easy, convenient, quick and simple to use. Other words to describe why they liked them were “futuristic”, “handy”, and “high information density”. Those who indicated they did not like using QR codes noted reasons such as it would require them to download an app, they preferred to type in a URL or search for it online, or they are confused about how to scan them.
The survey asked participants to rate if they thought QR codes are “cool”, “useful”, “risky”, and if the participants agreed with the statement “I am technologically savvy,” using the Likert-scale statements ranging from “Strongly agree” to “Strongly disagree”. Most participants selected “Agree” for the sentiments that QR codes are cool and useful, and for the statement regarding their technology savviness. In regard to the sentiment that QR codes are risky, most participants recorded that they neither agree nor disagree with the statement.
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.
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/