By now you have probably seen a QR Code or two. They float around in advertisements, stickers, and on the web.
What are they?
QR Code or Quick Response Code is a matrix barcode that is readable by QR readers. Most smartphones can now read them or APPs are readily available. The code consists of black modules arranged in a square pattern on a white background. The information encoded may be text, URL, or other data. More about QR Codes on Wikipedia.
Can I use them?
Anyone can use QR codes, even though they have been around for a few years, they are starting to gain mainstream popularity. Some smartphone cameras now already capable of reading QR codes without any additional software.
What can I put into a QR Code?
QR codes can be useful to store anything from text, to URL’s to even vCards. They pack a lot of information for a small square!
How do I create one?
I have found a number of great resources for QR code generation, some paid services will only create a shortlink to the information, while others allow you to easily create anything you want. My favorite so far has to be the QR Code Generator from ZXing
So do they work in the real world?
A few months ago I was asked to create a business car for Simplicit Technologies, an IT Outsourcing and IT Management Consultant firm. Being as they were rebranding and wanted to give off the feel of “tech” we went with a radical minimal design incorporating design elements and tech elements. First we started off with a clean business card front, a simple name and title followed by basic contact information.
Inspiration for the back came when we were discussing how the business cards would primarily be used in trade shows and conferences nationwide. “Trade show.. for tech guys?” That screamed “QR Code” to me. On the back a tasteful quote from Leonardo Davinci, master of innovation. Along those lines, like a true art piece, a QR code.
Why it works
How many times have you gotten a business card and stuffed it into your wallet and forgot about it. Now on the other end, how many times have you given your business card to have someone just shove it into their pocket? The QR code is the next revolution in Business Cards. When a member of the Simplicit Technologies team hands out a business card, they can make sure to ask or point out the QR code. The receiver of the card takes out their smart phone and snaps a picture, and within seconds a contact file is now ready to be saved to their phone. While it is not a guaranteed phone call or followup for a potential client, it is 1 step closer.
Everyone should do it
I love networking, I hate business cards. I collect them, great ones and dull ones. If every business card has a simple QR code, I could easily just scan in the QR Code and have a new contact with all the information I need (Name, Phone, Company, Website URL, Mobile Phone, etc.). With smart phones nowadays you can easily categorize contacts and when you sync with your computer or cloud solution you now have a list of people you met at a trade show, convention, or over lunch. Innovation.
Where else should businesses use QR Codes?
Once you start using QR codes, something clicks, you have to see what every QR code has stored. I think of this like a decoder ring of the 1950′s. What will the mystery message be! Last week I was reading through a copy of Rolling Stones magazine and saw an ad with a QR code. Not did it just take me to a website tied into the advertisement, think of all the analytics tracking that can be done as you have websites catered to specific QR Codes or Ad Campaigns.
So in the end, a QR code is an efficient way to store, and distribute vital information, what isn’t to love?