What is a QR code?
A QR code is a two-dimensional barcode that is square in shape. Typically these codes are black and white but websites are making it possible to play with different colors and even add a logo in the center. They have two larger squares in the upper right and left-hand corners and one large square in the lower left-hand corner. The center is filled with smaller, black squares on a light background. The (QR barcode) contains encoded information that can only be read when it is scanned by a smartphone. The smartphone must be web-enabled, have a camera, and have QR reader software installed.
QR codes were originally created in Japan by Toyota back in 1994 to track vehicles. They became very popular there and over the last few years have started to increase in popularity in North America.
What are QR codes used for?
The answer to this question depends on the person creating the code. For instance, check out the code I created for this website:
This image can be scanned using the QuickMark QR code reader available through the Android market. It may also be compatible with other readers but this is the one I have tested. To read the code you simply open the application, click on “scan barcode,” hold the camera over the image, and wait for it to scan. The application will show the URL for this website, http://QRTagGenerator.com.
I created the code using a free QR code generator through QRStuff.com.
My code was created just for demonstration purposes but these codes can be made for and by anyone. If you’d like to make one for your business card, you could link to a video in which you introduce yourself rather than a page that only displays the information. You could link to how to videos, virtual tours, nutritional information, recipes, or anything thing relevant to your business or the services you provide that your customers will find valuable or informative.
What can I do with QR codes?
Once you’ve created your QR code there are many things you can do with it. What you choose to use them for depends on the type of business you run and your marketing goals. If you’re applying for a writing job you could use your code to link to writing samples or an online resume. If you have a blog or business website, you can place the QR code there and direct people to other relevant pages or information. If you own a restaurant you could use your codes on menus and offer virtual tours of the kitchen, videos of certain dishes being made, videos which introduce the employees, or discounted coupons.
If you work in real estate you could put these codes on for sale signs and they can direct buyers to neighborhood demographics, schools in the area, or virtual tours from inside the home. Retailers can put the codes on products to offer safety information, recipes and nutritional information on produce. Furniture that has to be built by the consumer could have QR codes on the outside of the packaging that links to instructional videos or a website that provides step-by-step instructions.
The codes can be emailed, downloaded and saved to your computer, or printed and added to flyers, brochures, stickers, mugs, caps, t-shirts, tote bags or anything else that can have something printed on it.
When creating your QR code remember that ideally any website you link to should be optimized for mobile viewing. Also remember that people love information and deals so be creative with the type of information you add to the code.