QR codes on business cards, in ads and brochures, and on posters and billboards are meant to be scanned by consumers with their smartphone code reader apps. What happens next is up to you, the person who created the QR code.
When someone scans a QR code, that code triggers a specific action on their smartphone or handheld device. Businesses use this code to provide additional interaction and connectivity between their print materials and the general public.
You can cause the Quick Response (QR) code to:
- Create a New Contact
Make it easier for someone to contact you by automatically entering your contact information (name, phone number, address) on the user's phone so that the recipient can quickly add you to their contact list.
- Make a Phone Call
Give someone an incentive to call you right then by entering your phone number into the dialer on the phone ready for the recipient to dial.
- Send an Email
Prompt someone to contact you by email by creating an email to the address of your choosing on the user's phone ready for them to complete and send to you.
- Browse the Mobile Web
Show off your space on the Web and provide additional information of your choosing by opening the phone's Web browser to go to an URL that you specify or simply bookmark the URL. This could be any page on your Web site, a video page, your Facebook Wall, your LinkedIn profile, or any other location on the Web.
- Send a Text Message
Encourage immediate contact by creating a new text message addressed to you. The user would then enter their message and press send.
Be social by creating a tweet for Twitter.
- Mark the Date of an Event
Help someone remember a future date by creating a calendar event ready to be added to the phone's calendar.
- Show a Map
Give directions by loading a map with a location you specify (such as your retail location or the place for a special event).
- Say Something
Talk to someone immediately by displaying a plain text message of your choosing right on their phone.
While QR codes are typically used in print, you can also use them in your Web pages to help Internet users get information onto their phones such as contact information or to make it easy to bookmark your Web site and carry it with them on the go.
Whatever action you put into your QR code, test it with multiple QR code readers and on different smartphones to see how they respond. Some phones may handle certain functions better or in a different manner than others.
When entering an URL, remember that it will be accessed on a phone so it is a good idea to send users to the mobile version of your site or some other phone-friendly page of your site (No Flash!). You can also use URL shortening services such as bit.ly in order to monitor and track the effectiveness of your use of QR codes.
"Mobile devices with WiFi and cell access to the Internet are everywhere these days. And if your Web page doesn't display well on them, you're losing customers." — Jennifer Krynin, About.com Guide to Web Design; Writing a Mobile Friendly Website
Unless your printed piece is specifically designed primarily to promote your Web presence, you probably don't want to use a code that dumps people on your home page expecting them to find their way around. Use the code to take them to specific pages relevant to how the code was used such as:
- a product listing or detailed product description page
- support page or FAQ sheet for a specific product (put the code on packaging or instruction sheet)
- an order form or online store
- a coupon code
- an event announcement page
- a special promotional page for a specific ad campaign
- your online portfolio (put the code in your brochure or on your business card)
- your email newsletter sign-up form
Guidelines and Ideas for Your QR Code Content
- 50-Count 'Em, 50!-Creative Uses of QR Codes lists 50 different places or ways to use QR codes such as putting a QR Code with the phone number of a cab company in bar bathrooms or putting sell sheet info and video walkthroughs in the code on a For Sale sign.
- 101 Uses for Quick Response (QR) Codes because 50 just isn't enough, right?
- The Three Rules of QR Codes addresses choosing the destination URL, URL length, and content when sending readers to a Web site.
Once you've decided what you want to promote with your QR code dress up that plain old black and white block. Turn it into a Designer QR Code with color, softer lines, and interesting additions such as your logo.