QR Code never went away as its usage is now on the rise more than ever. With the increase in the implementation of contactless solutions for most business operations, QR Codes are proving to be very helpful.
These codes are mostly used for contactless payment, delivery, and even contactless retail, and can also be extended to solve complex business problems.
Businesses use these codes for their simplicity and easy scannability using most smartphone cameras.
Buick, Goldman Sachs, and Investec Bank have all had their fair share of QR Code failures. So if your QR Code is not working, just know you’re not alone.
There are mainly 6 reasons why a QR Code does not work:
With the latest iOS update, iPhones can, to some extent, scan bad quality QR Codes. Similarly, smartphones running on Android 9 and above, such as Pixel and Samsung S10+, can also scan bad quality QR Codes.
But what if your target audience uses old smartphones? With old phones, scanning low-quality QR Codes can not be always possible. Therefore, it is recommended to fix poor quality QR Codes for better scannability and usage.
6 reasons why your QR Code is not working + Troubleshooting tips
1. Quality of the QR Code
As a perceiver, you might not appreciate looking at a hazy or distorted image for your brain to interpret the images correctly. That implies that the quality of images is paramount for your sensory organs.
Similarly, a poor quality QR Code image might not be correctly interpreted by a scanner.
While a pixelated or blurry QR Code might still scan on some devices, it is recommended to keep the quality of QR Codes optimized. Therefore, always test out the printed QR Code and replace it with a higher quality QR Code.
Pro Tip: Download your QR Code in a high resolution, preferably in SVG or PNG format.
2. Inverting colors is a strict no-no
This is one of the most popular mistakes people make whilst creating a QR Code.
Don’t choose style and design over efficiency and productivity of the QR Codes because even though the code might look good, it might not work.
A classic QR Code has a white background and a black foreground. Inverting colors would mean the other way round. Will that help with scanning? No, a dark background might be unsuitable while scanning a QR Code.
William Taylor, a Career Development Manager at VelvetJobs says, “I’ve seen people creating QR Codes with a black or dark background and a white or lighter foreground. It may look great in some design scenarios, but they can’t be scanned with all QR Code scanner apps.
A lot of apps for scanning your QR Code expect the code to have a darker contrast to the background, so if you scan a codes with a white foreground it will not work for everyone.”
Pro Tip: Always use a light color background and a dark color foreground.
3. Size of the QR Code
QR Code size matters a lot for its readability and functionality.
The minimum size of a QR Code should be,
Size of the QR Code = Distance/10 or, 2 x 2 inches
Apart from the QR Code’s scannability, the code’s size also matters, especially to locate it on marketing collaterals. Most users won’t notice if the QR Code is tiny and placed in a corner.
Here is a real-life example of an unnoticeable QR Code– Real Juice has tiny QR Codes on food packaging that often go unnoticed.
Lastly, think about the mode of print advertisement. The size needs to be directly proportional to it.
Pro Tip:Gauge the QR Code’s location and then decide its size. For instance, if you are placing a QR Code on a business card, its size cannot be less than 2 x 2 inches, else the QR Code won’t scan.
If placing on a bigger surface, modify the size according to the formula above.
4. Be mindful of the contrast of the QR Code
To match a specific style’s theme and color, you might have an urge to change the color of QR Codes. But please refrain from doing so!
You can play around with the colors, provided you are doing it right. Go for bold colors – sometimes they might not match the theme but they will stand out. If your colors match the contrast, it can get challenging for QR Code readers to scan the QR Code.
Tim Uittenbroek, the founder of VPNMash.com says that he has witnessed a wounded QR Code not working well. Many QR Code scanners cannot scan QR Codes with a lot of color schemes. The QR Code must look sharp on different screens and in print format.
A good rule of thumb is to keep the foreground40% darker than the background while creating a QR Code.
Apart from this, dull colors with no contrast on a billboard or a window might go unnoticed. This negates the purpose of using a QR Code.
Pro Tip: Keep the foreground 40% darker than the background even while using contrasting colors.
Placing a QR Code in the correct location will have more impact on users.
According to several QR Code experts and marketers, a QR Code’s success is all its scanning speed and placement. Overall, it shouldn’t take less than a couple of seconds to scan a QR Code successfully. Now, let’s look into the QR Code placement part.
Make sure the QR Code is at the eye-level of the users. If the QR Code is too low or within 20 inches from the ground, no one will notice it. Even if they do, no one is going to scan it.
Always make sure that the QR Code is large enough to not just be noticeable, but also be able to scan without any errors.
An important tip for restaurants using QR Codes as menus – Do not place a QR Code behind a reflective surface, for example below a glass top table or the restaurant window. The reflected light might interfere with the scanning process.
Pro Tip: If you use QR Codes on smaller areas such as business cards, brochures, or flyers, place the code in the front and center of the surface. When placing QR Codes on more extensive displays like billboards, ensure they are at eye level so that users can scan them easily.
Overcrowding the QR Code with too much content ruins its entire purpose.
Look at the QR Codes above. The one on the left is neat and crisp, which means it will scan faster. The one on the right appears busy and crowded. This simply means that the one with more pixels carries more content and takes longer to scan.
Too much content can cause multiple problems with QR Codes in various circumstances. For instance, adding a lot of content can reduce the size of the quiet space and the corners. A lot of scanners are dependent on those corners, and thus they may not be able to function correctly.
3 other QR Code scanning problems + Tips to fix them
What if most of your customers still use the latest smartphone and the above-discussed QR Code scanning issues persist? And you are wondering, “Why is my QR Code not working?”. Then, it’s time to troubleshoot the codes.
Here are 3 possible reasons why and how you can troubleshoot poor quality QR Codes:
1. Expired QR Code
Taking help from a poor-quality free QR Code generator to create a QR Code can lead to expired codes. The worst part is that you might stay unaware of the code’s expiration and that users are still scanning and connected to the wrong information. Some generators also have a cap on the number of scans that can render your QR Code unscannable after it hits the limit.
Pro Tip: Always test your QR Code periodically to ensure it is working. Use a high-quality free QR Code generator like Beaconstac.
2. Broken link
A broken link usually implies that a URL links to a website that no longer exists or that there is a mistake while typing the website link.
A broken link is not just a technical problembut also leaves a bitter experience for end users.
You may have encountered several automated messages in case of a broken link – 404 not found, 500 internal server errors, and 503 services unavailable. These codes might have destroyed your flow while going through the concerned website. Hence, it is always recommended to test QR Codes to see if they are directed to a functional and accurate website.
Pro Tip: Always keep an eye out for the working functionality of the webpage and update it regularly using a dynamic QR Code.
3. Over customization of the QR Code
Customization is required to make your brand stand out, serve the campaign’s purpose, and increase the ROI. However, over-customizing a QR Code is never recommended.
Simple customization includes adding a logo, changing the colors of the QR Code, and adding a background image.
Over customization implies that the QR Code is customized beyond unrecognizable, perhaps due to adding an over-the-top background image, changing the data pattern extensively, using colors of the same spectrum, or even adding a long and unreadable URL.
Pro Tip: Do not add elements to the QR Code which you may deem as unnecessary.
Test the QR Code
Before printing the QR Code on the final outlet, always test it.
QR Code testing is vital.
Test the QR Code on other operating devices, open the URL, and other content linked to it.
QR Code correction levels play an essential role in scanning. If the code has a low error correction level due to external damage, it won’t scan. Also, QR Code scanning can take longer if the QR Code error correction level is high due to the code’s complexity.
Test the QR Code by performing a basic sanity check of the working functionality of the QR Code.
Check if the code is over customization and directs to a broken link. Or some issue with its contrast, expiry, and placement.
If the QR Code is still not working, try scanning it via an external QR Code scanner or update your operating system to the latest version.
2. Why is my QR Code not displaying?
Check the format of the downloaded QR Code and see if there are any errors while downloading it. Test the QR Code by scanning it with a compatible smartphone QR Code reader/app. If the QR Code is still not detected, try refreshing the screen.
If none of these work, then download the QR Code again in any of these formats – JPG, PNG, SVG, or EPS and try again.
3. Why is my QR Code scanner not working?
Sometimes the QR Code scanner may not work if the camera is tilted to a certain angle, exposed to poor lighting conditions or if the mobile operating system is old.
Your phone’s distance from the QR Code also matters. Holding the mobile device too close or far from the QR Code won’t scan, as different phone models have non-identical focus parameters.
If your mobile device (Android or iPhone) still cannot scan the QR Code, try downloading a third-party QR Code scanning app.
4. Why is my camera not scanning QR Codes?
If your camera won’t scan the QR Code, it’s probably tilted at a certain angle while scanning. To fix this, ensure that your camerais level with the surface on which the QR Code is printed.
5. Will my QR Code stop working?
No. QR Codes do not have a lifespan. A QR Code can be scanned any number of times and they do not expire. Having said that, other QR Code generators offer unlimited use for only a limited number of days. But with Beaconstac’s free QR Codes, the static QR Codes are free with unlimited scans.
There might be a few reasons why your QR Code is not working when printed –
Check the size of the printed QR Code. The minimum size of the QR Code should be 2 x 2 inches. This size varies depending on the print material such as billboards, walls, brochures, or flyers or varies.
Check the placement of the QR Code. If the QR Code is printed in between the folds of a card, brochure, or flyer, there is a high probability of it not scanning. If the QR Code is pointed away from the user’s reach, the QR Code reader won’t be able to scan it.
Scan the QR Code from a distance to check its functionality.
Check for broken links and 404s, and fix it, if it is indeed, broken.
7. Why is my QR Code not showing up in Gmail?
If a QR Code is not showing in your email, then try clearing the cache. Another way of troubleshooting is by changing the option in the Gmail Settings and opting for Display Images. Sometimes, this hidden feature may not allow emails to display QR Codes.
8. Why is my QR Code not working on the iPhone?
Your iPhone is capable of scanning all kinds of QR Codes.
If your iPhone is still unable to scan QR Codes, then try these steps –
Select Camera in your iPhone Settings.
Enable Scan QR Codes.
Launch your Camera and scan the QR Code.
If your iPhone Camera still cannot scan the QR Code, you can opt for a QR Code reader app.
9. Why is my WhatsApp QR Code not showing on WhatsApp?
Here are some reasons why WhatsApp QR Code is not loading –
If you are using your smartphone’s hotspot and sharing it with your computer
The internet connection is weak
WhatsApp service may be down
Your phone is not connected to the internet or might be slow
If these are the problems, then consider switching the computer’s internet connection to a separate one and check the status of the WhatsApp service on Downdetector. Now, open WhatsApp on your phone to scan the WhatsApp QR Code.
10. What does “QR Code campaign disabled” mean?
A QR Code campaign might be disabled for a number of reasons like – failed conversion rates, a decrease in engagement, or even wrongful usage. In such cases, your phone won’t read the QR Code. A reliable QR Code generator, however, alerts the user of the message when the QR Code campaign has been disabled.
11. How can I check if a QR Code is valid?
Scan the QR Code by opening the smartphone’s camera and facing it. Once the camera aligns itself to the QR Code, the encoded address or action intended is accessed immediately. If not, use a different QR Code scanner to check its scannability.
If the QR Code does not display the intended action, then it’s an invalid QR Code. Sometimes, scanning the QR Code can give you a warning message like “Please do not scan this QR Code again.”, which means it’s broken.
12. Why is my Whatsapp QR Code not working?
If you’re unable to scan the Whatsapp QR Code, check if your smartphone is connected to the internet. If it’s connected to the internet and still not scanning the QR, restart your device and try again.
13. Why is my QR Code not working on Android?
If the QR Code is not working on your Android phone, ensure that you’ve updated your phone’s system to the latest Android OS version.
Launch the Camera app and point it steadily at the QR Code for nearly 3 seconds. If the QR Code still doesn’t scan, press and hold the QR Code icon next to the shutter button on your camera.
If the problem persists:
Tap More after opening the Camera app.
Go to Settings and activate Google Lens suggestions.
14. Why is my Discord QR Code not working?
If you have downloaded Discord’s mobile app, you can log in to your account on the desktop by scanning the QR Code. These QR Codes only work for 2 minutes. So if your Discord QR Code is not working, refresh the login page or restart the desktop app and try again.
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