QR codes are a type of barcode similar to those seen on items in a store, except QR codes are two dimensional and much more efficient than standard barcodes so they can store a larger amount of information. The beauty of QR codes is that all kinds of alphanumeric data such as websites, email addresses and more can be embedded in them. When a QR code is scanned it takes a person directly to whatever type of information is embedded, regardless of the application, in a way similar to a shortcut.
For instance, if you want someone to visit this website:
http://www.reallylongwebsite.com/excitingpromotion/spring2016/westcoast/specials, it would make sense to give them a shortcut rather than spell this out and expect the person to type it or remember it later. Instead, an embedded QR code will go directly to this page which is more efficient and prevents typos. QR codes can be used on all sorts of items like business cards, brochures, t-shirts, marketing materials, events, to sign up for special discounts and sales, to track inventory and more. This post covers how to create QR codes for free, regardless of their intended use.
QR codes are read by traditional barcode readers as well as barcode scanner apps which are available in smart phone app stores. Many barcode scanner apps are free and are typically user friendly. This means most people will be able to scan QR codes already, or they can simply download a free app if necessary, to access QR codes.
To create a QR code
- Visit this website to generate QR codes for free.
- In Section 1, select the type of information you are embedding. In this example we will embed a website address.
- In Section 2, type in the website address you want to embed in the QR code. It is important to put http:// or https:// in front of the website address.
- Choose the radio button to use your original website address, or create a dynamic shortened link if you think the website link may change over time so you do not have to create new QR codes.
- In Section 3, to set the color of the QR code, type out the hexadecimal color code used in your marketing materials below the color box. If you do not need a special color, pick any color from the color box.
- Use the preview box on the right to verify the QR code is as desired.
- In Section 4, select the output type.
The resulting QR code from this example:
To read a QR code
- Open a barcode scanning app on your smart phone.
- If the scanner does not immediately open up, click the icon for the scanner.
- Hold the phone over the QR code so the code is within the scanner brackets.
- NOTE: The camera in the phone is what reads the code so angle the phone appropriately.
- Once the QR code has been read, the app will prompt you asking if it is okay to take you to this link. Click Yes to go to the link or embedded destination.