James Royal-Lawson


Stop using QR codes!

This autumn the use of QR codes in advertising in Stockholm has exploded. There are more codes visible now than ever before. Unfortunately the majority of them are poorly implemented.

If the QR code doesn’t add to the user experience, don’t use them!

In this blog post I’ve collected together a number of recent examples of QR codes in the wild here in Stockholm, Sweden.

Almost every single code took me to a standard desktop website (or campaign site). Most of them led to a page that was not designed or adjusted for handheld devices.

If a fishy bites, hold on!

QR codes are not going to be scanned by a large number of people – irrespective of the hype, most people don’t know what the hell they are, don’t know how to scan them, or don’t care about scanning them.

When you get someone who does know what they are, and does bother to scan them – you want to make sure you hold on to them! This means what happens once they’ve scanned the code needs to help them take the next step in a relevant context.

Build for the context

By and large this means always think mobile when you are using QR codes. This is the context your target audience are in when they scan. Anything other than mobile-ready content or service will make their interaction more difficult. This will reduce their happiness, reduce the chance of meeting your goals, and potentially damage your brand.

QR Codes in the wild

Nokia N9

Nokia N9 advert with QR code

The code leads to the full desktop website. No handheld or responsive version available.

FV Seleqt

FV Seleqt Sugar Snaps with QR code

Scan this product packaging and you are taken to a desktop site showcasing their products.


Krusovich sign at an event with QR code

Leads to a page that has been designed for mobiles. The page contains a form, but there is still room for optimised it to make completion as easy and as successful as possible from a touch-screen device.


Biltema catalogue with QR codes

Two tiny codes, very close together. One for the Android app and one for the iPhone app. They do both scan, but you have cover up one of the codes to ensure you scan the correct one.


Scan advert with QR code

I didn’t manage to get this code to scan. It was very badly positioned (right at the bottom of the advert) meaning I had to get down on my knees to try to scan it. The code was also relatively small and contained a lot of data.


Norskfisk advert with QR code

Scan the code and you end up at a recipe, on a desktop web site. No mobile version.


SEB advert with QR code

Code to apply for a loan.

Stockholm Film Festival

Stockholm Film Festival programme with QR code

This year’s film festival site is really quite good, but shame they used a code that pointed straight to the desktop site. No mobile site is available, but there is an iPhone app.


Skanska advert with QR code

This code was featured on an advert on the Stockholm metro leads to a desktop website.


Pantamera adverts with QR code

One of the few better implementations included in this blog post. The codes lead to YouTube videos, which serves a mobile version of it’s site (or can even open directly in the YouTube app on many mobiles).


You can find all of these QR codes (and more) in this set on my Flickr stream.

James Royal-Lawson is a digital strategist and web manager based in Stockholm Sweden.

Sweden Social Web Camp ticket giveaway

When it became clear that I wouldn’t after all be able to make it to SSWC, I had to decide what to do with my ticket. What easier way to deal with it then to give it away?

No easy decision!

It wasn’t so easy at all. Not because nobody wanted it, quite the opposite – there were a whole load of people to choose from – but because choosing which one individual would get the ticket was a much tougher thing than i’d ever considered.

I’d set out my terms and conditions for the giveaway on Google+. In short I wanted to give the ticket to someone who hadn’t been in the “web” industry for years and would learn from the experience – to give someone a little lift and perhaps help them over the garden wall.


After quite a bit of thought – and a number of changes of mind – I decided the ticket should go to Jessica Muschött, @Karmapriya. Jessica has been involved in the branch previously, but has spent recent years doing voluntary work in India. She’s looking at making a comeback in this exciting world of digital communiction. So, She’s going to be off to Sweden Social Web Camp 2011 as part of that climb back over the garden wall.

Thanks to everyone who nominated someone, or nominated themselves. Everyone had a good case, and I wish I could send you all. Maybe next year!

QR codes: how not to use them in your campaign

During the summer months, Sveriges Radio, the public service broadcaster here in Sweden, broadcasts a series of programmes featuring talks by guest presenters. Sommar i P1, or “Sommarpratare” (“Summer talkers”).

On my metro train this morning, there was an advert for the radio series. What caught my attention was that it featured a QR code.

SR advert on the Stockholm metro featuring a QR Code

Armed and ready to scan

Naturally, this meant just one thing. I had to take out my phone and try to scan it. Being who I am, I know exactly what one of these funny little square codes is – I also have a barcode scanner installed on my mobile and my tablet. I’m armed and ready to go.

I was sat on the train (which is pretty normal for my journey) and the advert was about 1.5m to my right, on the inside of the window.

On the Metro here in Stockholm, the seats are grouped in clusters of four. This meant I had three other people sat around me. Standing up and getting a closer shot of the code wasn’t going to happen – if I was going to scan this code, I needed to do it from my seat.

So, out came my phone and I pointed it discretely (as discretely as you can on a morning train into the city) at the QR code and waited for the app to focus and get a lock. Nope. Nothing. It was just too small to scan from this distance.

Linking to a non-mobile site?

Not wanting to give up, I entered the URL included on the advert. It was good that they’d included a link (as well as the QR Code) – at least this meant I wasn’t totally dependent on the code – presuming that the code contained the same link!

I entered the link into my mobile’s browser and erk! Everything ground to a halt, my smartphone pretty much locked up. I hadn’t been automatically redirected to the mobile version of the page, instead I ended up at the full standard version of the site – complete with built in radio player – was loading and trying to come to life. Not the mobile experience I was hoping for.

When I got to the office, I brought up the picture of the code (that i’d uploaded to Flickr during my journey) and managed to scan it off the screen. It decoded to the same URL as on the poster.

This isn’t helpful.

Think mobile

You always scan these codes from your mobile. It’s an advert on a train, there’s not really any other option! Any content they contain has to be useful, accessible, and relevant for a mobile user.

The saddest part of this story is that SR do have a mobile version of their website – including a programme page for the summer programme.

Offline meets online

It’s crucial that you consider exactly how people will consume your advertising. If you are going to join the offline and online worlds together – which you should – then QR codes is a good tool, but if you don’t think mobile, you might as well not bother.

James Royal-Lawson+ is a freelance web manager and strategist based in Stockholm Sweden.

Twitter users in Sweden: demographics

Intellecta Corporate have presented some additional findings based on new analysis of their data collected from Twitter during December 2010. In the previous presentation they came to the conclusion that there were 35993 active Twitter users in Sweden.

The new analysis focused on segmentation of the active twitter accounts. How many were companies? how many were people? how many were women? what professional is most common?


They analysed the location given for each account. Unfortunately the majority of of the 91316 Swedish Twitter accounts didn’t give any location, or any useful/specific location. So even though there were 11000 Accounts that listed Stockholm as their location, it’s impossible to say anything more than at least 11000 Twitter users are in Stockholm.


There’s no direct way of establishing the age of Twitter users, but Hampus analysed the names given – which can give you an indication of the generation of those tweeting. Many of the most common names are names that you would generally associate with people born in the 1970s. (that is a personal guess by me, without any checking of official name data.)


Next up was one of the more interesting statistics – the gender of Twitter users. Of those accounts that could be determined to be human, and that had a name where it was possible to determine the gender – 33284 accounts had a male name, and 26119 had a female name. this equates to a 56/44% male female split.

Amongst active users (those who have tweeted at least once a day during a 30 day period) the split tilts even more towards men. 61/39%. Active Swedish men on twitter made more updates, followed more people, and were followed by more than their female counterparts.


A list of the most common occupation related words used in bios was also presented. I don’t think this can be taken too seriously, due to the way in which the bio field is used by people. Some people use it to describe themselves, others to describe why they are on Twitter (what they are interested in).

Some people have professions where there is a universally accepted term to describe that profession. Others perhaps work with something that has a large variation of titles. Never the less, journalist was the most common occupational word. Followed by student and manager. One thing I found interesting was that the list contained 6 English words, 3 words/phrases that are the same in Swedish and English, and just 3 that were exclusively Swedish.

Who Tweets?

Last up was – who is it that Tweets? 85% of the accounts analysed were people, 11% were companies, organisations and public authorities. Twitter in Sweden, unsurprisingly perhaps, is a very human thing.

The presentation can be found on Slideshare (in Swedish) and the video of the presentation (also in Swedish) can be found on Bambuser.

is a freelance web manager and strategist based in Stockholm Sweden.

How many twitter users in Sweden?

Today Intellecta Corporate presented the results of their Twitter Census. The first time a systematic analysis of Twitter use in Sweden has been performed. During December 2010, Over a million Twitter accounts were analysed and over twenty million tweets. Leading to a figure of 91316 Swedish Twitter accounts.


What’s exactly counts as Swedish?

It’s not completely straight forward to ascertain what country a Twitter account is associated with. The location details on people’s profiles is not compulsory and not filled in by many (or made up).

The survey chose to study the language people tweeted in. If you tweeted at least once in Swedish during a 30 day period in November/December 2010, then you were flagged as Swedish.

The language was detected using two tools – a PHP class, and then cloud-sourced manual check if the confidence level of the machine generated result was inconslusive.

Once an account was deemed to be Swedish, all of the followers of that account were added to a queue to be processed. This was repeated until no new twitter accounts were discovered.

So who gets missed?

This technique doesn’t capture every single person who we (humans) would associate with Sweden. Obviously it misses out anyone who only tweets in another language than Swedish.

It also excludes people who are passive readers and those who have protected their tweets (some 10% of all accounts analysed). At the same time it includes auto-tweeting accounts, multiple-accounts, and companies.

35993 Active Swedes

The survey filtered the total number of accounts to obtain the number of active Swedish Twitter accounts. Just under 36000 accounts have Tweeted at least three times, have at least one Swedish follower or follow at least one Swede, and have Tweeted at least once in the 30 days up to when the analysis of the account was performed.

The Twitter Elite

11215 are very active on Twitter. On average at least one tweet a day during December 2010. These eleven thousand accounts (6% of Swedish accounts) generate 68% of the tweets. The other way round, the figured are almost mirrored – 6% tweets are generated by 70% of accounts.

But what about Reach?

As I mentioned earlier, these figures say nothing about the reach of Twitter in Sweden – that is to say the number of people reading tweets. We have no idea how many of the non-active 54000 read Tweets in some form nevertheless.

What we can say though is that there are approximately 100 times more active Facebook accounts here in Sweden than Twitter. Even a number of forums (such as Fragbite) have more active accounts than Twitter.

This doesn’t mean that Twitter isn’t useful, and it doesn’t mean you can dismiss it as a channel here in Sweden just because there are only 36000 active accounts.

Twitter Communities

Hampus mentioned after the presentation that there are, it would seem, a number of different, largely unconnected, communities. There are groups of people (including very active users) who follow quite separate sets of people to other groups of Twitter users.

There was no analysis or data offered regarding this point, but as a personal observation I’ve noticed communities for web, politics, media/PR, and celebrities. Some (sub)communities on Twitter have a lot more reach than others.

Twitter is what you make it. It’s reach and importance depends not only on how active you are, but also the subject area you focus on – and how active the Twitter community surrounding that topic is.

Don’t bury the whale

The survey has produced some fascinating figures, and raises more questions than it answers. Twitter is not a tool used by the masses, but it’s clearly an important tool in certain communities. It’s not time to bury the whale just yet.

A PDF of Intellecta’s report is available here.

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