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QR Codes

By: , On Tuesday, August 16th, 2011

QR code stands for Quick Response code and is a type of 2D bar code. I’ve written about QR codes before on another blog, and they’ve gained a lot of popularity since then so I won’t go into too much background information but if you would like more history on QR Codes Wikipedia has a nice article about them.

Why Use QR Codes?

QR Codes are a great way to augment traditional media and  quickly relay data to mobile users allowing them to instantly view it on their mobile device or easily store it for later reference.   Mobio Identity Systems Inc an international mobile payments and marketing company released a report showing a 9840% increase in QR coded scanning  during the second quarter of 2011 in North America. Internet marketing research company comScore also recently gave a press release revealing 6.2 percent or 14 million mobile users in the US scanned QR codes on their phones during June of 2011.

Creating Codes and Identifying Content

There are lots of mobile apps and websites which allow users to create QR Codes. Simply search Google for the phrase “qr code generator” and at least the first eight results will be just that. My preferred generator is one by the ZXing Project, who are also the developers of the Barcode reader app for Android. Virtually all QR code generators allow you to identify the type of content you are placing inside of the code which is important because it helps the decoding app determine the best way to handle the decoded data. For example if you’re placing a URL inside of a QR code you would like who ever scans the code to be able to automatically visit your link and not simply have it appear on their screen as static text, which is why you should make sure to identify a QR code containing a URL as a URL and not text.

Aside from allowing users to visit URLs properly identifying your QR codes content can allow contact info to be saved to an address book, events to be added to calendars, geographical locations to be viewed on a map,  drafting of SMS messages, and sharing of wi-fi connections without sharing passwords, just to name the most common uses.

QR Codes and Design

QR codes can be created with up to 30%  correction allowance, leaving room from some nice visual enhancements of QR codes as recently depicted in a post on Webdesigner Depot. One important thing to remember when altering the appearance of QR codes is to maintain a fair amount of contrast between the code and the background keeping the code darker than the background, the aforementioned post has some additional tips for enhancing QR codes.

QR Codes are Dead?

Some people out there will say QR codes are dead mainly because a new technology called Near Field Communication which is quickly picking up steam in mobile devices, and is already implemented on most credit and debit cards. It allows a dynamic exchange of data between two devices, where as a QR code is simply encoded information being interpreted by a device.

Here are my reasons why QR codes are not dead.

  1. They are cheaper and easier to implement.  Currently anyone with a computer can create a QR code and print it or place it on a website for free.
  2. They can currently be read by more devices. There are currently a few main stream consumer devices capable of NFC while most smart phones on the market are able to read QR codes given the proper software app.
  3. Simplicity, in many cases using NFC maybe like using a shovel when all you really need is a spoon.

Do you use QR codes in your marketing or networking efforts? Please share any tips or experiences in the comments below.

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