Kellogg : Coding error

Usability is neglected in the introduction of links for smartphones.

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The feature

Kellogg, US-based breakfast foods company, has introduced smartphone linking without giving adequate thought to usability.

Kellogg only provides its corporate website visitors with a PDF version of its annual Corporate Responsibility Report online. Many of the pages and features within the report incorporate a QR code stamp with an invitation to scan it to access related content, which may be a download, video or external web page. For example, Spreading The Word On Nutrition offers “our nutrition-focused website for health care professionals”; Engaging With Our Growers promises visitors the chance to “learn about our new palm oil commitment”.

How to use the code device is explained on the report’s opening page, under the CEO’s introduction. Visitors are encouraged to scan the codes throughout the report “with your smartphone to access more information” and advised they can download a QR code reader “from your favorite app store”.

The takeaway

Multiple device use is a growing phenomenon, with recent research by Facebook and GfK suggesting that 40 per cent of online adults in the US and UK sometimes start an activity on one device and finish it on another. So Kellogg may be onto something with its deployment of QR codes as related links, and people will wave their smartphones over a web page to activate them. It should, though, be going further to make the feature more usable.

While QR codes are ideal for a paper document, and the Kellogg report is clearly designed with print in mind, our own research into annual reports confirms that many people read PDF versions online. For them, the inclusion of clickable links under the code stamp would improve usability – and unlock the content for those without a smartphone to hand. It would also be a useful back up to counter the frustration of anyone who finds the screen image hard to capture on their QR reader.
First published 27 May, 2014
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