So now that we've created the content and qr codes, how do we know if it's working? We used the goo.gl service to shorten urls and track usage. I have a nice little spreadsheet with all the codes listed, and so monitoring the stats is as easy as clicking on the hyperlink.
Not only do we need to track usage for the participating museums, but we also need to report on this to our funder (CHIN). With a number of the museums being closed for the season, we know that these statistics won't be very reliable for interpretation until the summer tourist season. Until then, we'll be depending on year-round museums for our information.
The first codes were launched on February 4th, and since that time five other museums have posted the codes. Only four of these sites are really open to the public, with the other two being open by appointment. Five of the other six participating museums are also seasonal, so we aren't expecting to see big results until May/June. To date, 85% of the views have been from the Museum of Natural History. They were the first to launch and are always a busy site. The second busiest site is the Admiral Digby Museum, which launched their codes on March 17th. Our numbers aren't huge by any stretch of the imagination, but as qr codes become more common in Nova Scotia and summer traveling begins, we're hoping to see a major increase.
Here's what we've learned so far...
Interpreting the Stats:
1. Advertising is important. This is still a new technology for Canada, and a lot of Nova Scotians have no idea what these funny-looking things are. We used simple posters to inform the public about what they are and how they work, and have troubleshooting handouts available at each site.
2. Placement of the qr codes is important. Make sure they are in a well-lit area and very visible - either on/with the exhibit label or text panel, or on the wall next to the display. We can tell from the stats that when these rules aren't followed, the codes don't get viewed as frequently. Remember that nothing about the code itself will attract the visitor since they all look the same from a distance.
3. We forgot about iPods! It's not necessarily the end of the world if your visitors don't have a smartphone. If they've got an iPod touch, they can download a qr reader and enjoy the content along with phone users.
4. There is an urban/rural divide. So far, the codes are being used far more in Halifax than in rural areas.
5. Weekends are busiest. The stats graph shows clear spikes on Fridays and Saturdays. It will be interesting to see how summer holidays affect this trend.
6. Kids think this is magic. The Curator of the Admiral Digby Museum was recently doing a school group tour for a grade 2 class and showed them a few codes with her Blackberry. One student exclaimed, "you...you...you mean he is in THERE?" as she watched an oral history video.
I'll be including usage statistics with my monthly updates for the next six months, so check back to see how things progress over the summer. And if you happen to be visiting one of our participating sites, don't forget to scan some codes with your smartphone or iPod touch.
Last post in the QR Code series will be on challenges and lessons learned - stay tuned.