Why You Should Make Your QR Codes Unique

Wandering around the steets of London, I came across this excellent initiative from Camden Council on how to use QR codes on street furniture.

If you see that a light - or anything else - is damaged, you can scan the QR code and report the issue. There's even a phone number and vanilla URL for those who aren't quite up to speed with new technology.
QR Code Lamp-Post

There's only one slight issue - the QR code points to this site.
Reporting Form

The fact that the landing page isn't mobile friendly is bad enough, but what's worse is that they completely fail to take advantage of sending the user to a precise URL.

What should happen is that the URL should be something like


There are two solid reasons for doing this.

  1. It saves the user time - take them directly to where they need to go.
  2. You can track where users are scanning your codes.

QR codes are free to generate, and cheap to print. You don't need to be stuck in the old way of thinking about how you link the physical world to the digital world.

Imagine if, after scanning, the user was told "You're reporting street light 22 (Bedford Square) as broken. Click here to confirm."
And then, perhaps, on the next page "We'd like to stay in touch with you - please enter your details here." which could even be a Facebook / Twitter login.

As the owner of the QR, you can see exactly where and when people are scanning - at the moment, all the council knows is that one of the thousands of QR codes was scanned, but not which one.

It also means that users don't have to fiddle around on their phone's screen too much in order to report a problem. At the moment, they have to navigate through a complex site, fill in a form, and then hope they remembered which number street lamp was busted.

It could be as simple as scan - click - done. A win for users, and a nice set of analytics to monitor.

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