You see them everywhere…on business cards, cereal boxes, and magazine ads. Let’s learn all about QR codes and why they are so cool.
QR code stands for Quick Response code. It is simply a 2-D barcode that can be read by smart phones. The code (unlike normal bar codes) is made up of black blocks arranged in a square pattern usually with a white background. QR codes were originally created in Japan by a subsidiary of Toyota called Denso-Wave in 1994. Below is an example of a QR Code.
Before we learn anything about QR codes, we need to know how to use them.
First, you will need to download a QR code reader for your mobile device. If you have an Android phone, visit the Android Market and search for “Barcode Scanner” or “QR Code Scanner.” You will get a ton of results. I personally prefer an Android app called “Barcode Scanner” that is very versatile and easy to use. It will also scan normal product bar codes. If you have an iPhone or Apple Device, visit the Apple Store and search for the same phases above. Choose the app you prefer and install it.
Once the app is installed, simply launch the program and line up the QR code in the scanning area using the device’s camera. The brief video below is an example of how to scan a QR code.
QR codes have gained popularity with the rise of smart phones. They have become a quick, convenient way to bypass entering information manually into your phone. Granted, they still have a novelty factor because they are just becoming popular. Even after the novelty wears off, they will continue to be a convenient tool to convey information. Let’s review a few different kinds of QR codes below.
The most common type of QR code is a Website URL code. When the QR Code is scanned, it will take you directly to a particular website or webpage. Most QR codes on product packaging will send you to a webpage where you can learn more about that product. If you do your garden shopping at Lowes, you will notice each plant you buy is equipped with its own QR code. When you scan the code, it will take you to a page on the Lowes website where you can learn how to care for that plant.
A Business Card QR code, also known as Address or VCARD code, is designed to contain all of your contact information. When it is scanned, all of the contact information is automatically displayed on the person’s cell phone. It eliminates the need to manually enter all the information usually contained on a business card into your address book.
It is designed to contain your Name, Company Name, Telephone Number, Address, City, State & Zip Code, Email Address, Website and one Memo field for your tagline or other information. Because these codes contain more information, they tend to look different from the above URL code. Notice how the elements making up the QR code are smaller. You can usually spot these codes very quickly.
When a text QR code is scanned, it simply displays the text embedded in the barcode. A slight variation to this code is the Text Message QR code which will send a text message to a specific phone number.
Geo Location QR codes contain GPS coordinates. Calendar QR codes contain details about an event that will prompt the user to add the event to their device’s calendar. Some QR codes can contain WiFi network login information so users can quickly connect to the internet. Phone number QR codes will prompt the user to dial a telephone number.
Most QR code scanners include an initial prompt screen that requires the user to agree to the action. You don’t need to be concerned about things being programmed into your phone automatically without your permission.
QR codes do offer a little room for customization. It is possible to “hack” or edit the original barcode to include your own logo or brand. Once you have generated your QR code, open it in an image editing program like Adobe Photoshop and overlay your logo. You can also experiment with using different colors in your QR code.
When editing QR codes, it is important to use colors that have a strong contrast with each other. Always be sure to test your QR code before using it, editing the barcode in any way can result in a slow scan or none at all. Check out the example below where we introduced our logo into our QR code.
Blue Cloud Studio offers free QR codes! Feel free to use your new QR code on your business card, website or advertisements.
Don’t forget to share this article (using the Social Media shortcuts below) with your friends so they can start using QR codes too!