Ultimate QR Code Guide

Ultimate QR Codes Guide Overview

QR codes (Quick Response code) are quickly becoming a legitimate way of sending information quickly and easily. They are starting to pop up in advertisements, but there is a wide range of options to make brilliant uses of these two dimensional bar codes.

This ultimate QR guide will help you understand and maximize your use of QR codes by covering these topics:

History of QR Codes – and a little glimpse into the future

The QR code was born in the automotive industry. In the early 1990′s Toyota first started using this new form of bar code within its manufacturing processes. It was a more efficient way to store simple information about their parts and products than the standard bar codes. Since that point, there have been international standards set for encoding information (data, numbers, text, etc…) into QR codes.

In the early 2000′s, marketing firms decided to take advantage of this media. They often ran into conversion issues; where they would advertise a website to consumers, but the consumer wouldn’t go to the site because they would forget to do it later. With QR codes, and the rise of the smartphone industry, it was much more effective to get targeted consumers to take action.

In the 2010′s, as early adopters continue to spread the word about this relatively new bar code option, people are finding additional uses for it. Individuals can take advantage of it to market themselves. Artists and freelancers can easily create and distribute links to their online portfolio; business owners can provide promotions and advertisements to their patrons; you can even just use it to send a different style of text, or sms, message to friends. The future holds even more promise as people continue to find ways to creatively and effectively use this marketing medium.

How They Work – and why they’re better

The amount of data that can be stored is determined by what level or version is used. The level can be anywhere from 1 to 40. This essentially relates to how big or how small the blocks are. QR codes are also designed to be able to work even if part of the code is damaged or covered up. This is possible due to error correction. There are four levels that can be chosen (Low, Medium, Quality, or High). Which of these is chosen, also affects how much data you can store in the code.

When encoding data into a QR code, three corners are set with position data, and the fourth corner is set indented with a smaller block to be the alignment data. This allows the code to be read from any direction. Between the position data corners, the immediate rows of data record information about how to read the rest of the code. They store information about the version, data type, and the level of error correction. On the inside of the code is where the actual message, website, or phone number information resides. All of this information is generally stored like binary data; where the options are either on or off. Each area of the code is either shaded (on) or not (off).

QR codes work amazingly well (over traditional bar codes) to not only store numbers, but also text and web links. They store this information in a smaller more compact space; and they can be damaged/covered to some extent and still work. The biggest advancement of them however, is that they are so accessible via smart phones that almost anyone has access to them.

Create Your Own – it is easier than you think

There are several ways to create your own QR codes. They can be the basic black on white square structure to the very creative end where they are multi-colored, engrained into different shapes, and some even look like they are three dimensional. The best news is though, that almost all of the options are FREE.

The basic steps involved with creating QR codes are:

selecting what type of content you want to create
entering in the content (actual web address, phone number, text message, etc…)
creating the QR code; usually by clicking a ‘Generate’ button
saving that QR code image to your computer or immediately sending it out

For more advanced options, you can change the color from black to anything you want. If you want to put a personal touch on your QR code, you can edit them in Photoshop. This is where people get creative with designs.

The following websites include FREE QR code generators from the very basic to one with several options. Also included at the bottom are links to some other sites that discuss in more detail creating and designing your own QR code.

QR Code Generators

Qurify – This is the most basic QR generator. It just allows you to create a QR code that has text in it.

Kaywa QR Code – This generator allows you to create QR codes that contain links, phone numbers, text or sms messages. You can also save the image, or generate html code.

QR stuff – This generator has lots of options. You can point to URLs, YouTube videos, Google maps, social media profiles; as well as send email, text/sms, VCARD, VEVENT, and several other options. You can also change the color that shows up. If you are really into this, you can also order products with QR codes on them.

QR Code Design – Tutorial

Design QR Codes in Photoshop – This is a great site that details how to design the creative and more advanced QR codes, through Photoshop.

Creative Uses of QR codes

These easy to create and display codes, offer up a near endless potential of how to use them. After all they essentially direct people to websites or phone numbers. From there you can advertise products, share knowledge, obtain information, create awareness or any number of other activities. The key is to think how the use of a QR code can benefit you. Below is a list of creative ways other people and business have used or displayed QR codes. Read through and see if these can work for your situation or hopefully they can at least help you brainstorm other unique uses.

Museums and libraries place QR codes under art to point to information sites
Stores can offer e-coupons to customers that scan a specific code
You can create a note to yourself of a product / location that you enjoyed
Transportation services can link to real time websites for delays, weather, news, etc…
You can add a personal touch to gifts and point the recipient to an online voice message
You can share online music playlists with friends

Effective Uses of QR Codes – smart ways to use them to grow a business

If you are a small business owner or self promoter using QR codes realize this very IMPORTANT first rule. People that will scan the codes will be using their smart phones, so take them to a version of your website that is friendly to mobile devices. It should be a streamlined page that offers the basic essentials of your business/service/portfolio/etc… And don’t have Flash video on the site; because that eliminates all iPhone users. In general the size, links, images, etc.. should be designed with the smart phone user in mind.

The next very effective (and smart) way to use QR codes is to collect data about who scans the code. One example would be to have location specific codes. If you put one code in NY and one in LA, have them point to unique sites that automatically redirect the user to your main mobile homepage. Then you can tell how effective codes are in each city. You can also use QR code management software, although this area is still in the early stages of growth and there isn’t a consensus and developed standards yet.

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