You have a few options in terms of referencing pages...
- QR Codes
- URL Shortener
- Using full URL
No matter which method you choose to use, you have your pros and cons depending on your site's demographic.
Using a QR code is great for the younger, more tech-savvy, users.
They usually carry smartphones with them and can easily scan your QR
code to visit your site. However, keep in mind that people do
sometimes forget their phones, their phones break, or for whatever
reason, they don't have a phone on them. Another major hurdle for
this method is the older generations who either don't have
smartphones and/or don't know what a QR code actually does.
- Quick to scan
- Recognizable by most younger generations
- Doesn't take up much space
- User doesn't have phone on them
- User doesn't know what QR code is
- Trust problems (read the URL shortener section below and apply some of it to here as well since it's also anonymous)
URL shorteners are good for exactly what their name states - keeping the URL short. But do users really trust what content they'll get from it? Your short URL could be a phisher, keylogger, or any number of things.
Do users trust shortened URLs?
Many sites advise against clicking short URLs (other than ones like Facebook that actually create their own).
It's not only about trust though, as some sources suggest, people are not interested in clicking on them if they don't know what the page is for.
The standard sized URL addresses generated a 15% higher Engagement
Rate than the shortened ones. The latest data from December shows an
increase in the number of posted shortened links (by about 11% to 36%
overall), but an even bigger decrease in average Engagement Rate per
post (by an additional 14%). Does that mean that Facebook users trust
these links less than they did before?
- Take up very little space
- Users don't necessarily trust them
- Users don't have interest if they don't know what it is
An oldie but a goodie. Not only does posting the full URL allow people to see exactly which site they're going to, but it provides marketing for your page, allowing them to see exactly what it's about (assuming you use a descriptive URL with juicy keywords).
If you have the room on whatever your URL is going on, then this would be the recommended route. You actually get more people visiting your URL because they know what it is and trust it more than an anonymous link.
- User can see what site they're going to
- User can see a bit of information (if you use descriptive URLs)
- People of all ages know what a full URL is
As for having full URLs be problematic due to some pages being titled the same, what about adding page IDs to the URL? Almost any forum optimized for SEO does this. It keeps nice keywords in the title, while adding an ID to the link so that two threads can have the same title without a problem.
Looks nice if pages have different titles, also works if they have the same title.
As for telling your users to go on your site and search, I'm not even going to touch on this much. That's asking a user to do more steps than they'd like to do, all because you couldn't figure out which method was best to link them to it directly.
Ultimately it's a decision that differs from site to site. It depends on what you want, the age of your target audience, how much room you have wherever you're putting the URL, and many other things. We can list the pros and cons, but we can't make the decision for you unless we had all of the information.