What everybody and their dog should know about QR codes

Nothing sounds very cool if it’s still in 2D, right?  Nope, there’s still one thing.  QR codes are 2-dimensional bar codes that can allow quick and purposeful communication like exchanging contact info, or effortlessly transport a perspective customer to your product website.

Follow along and we’ll talk about where you might have already seen a QR code, how to install a free app on your mobile device or smartphone, and describe some of the more creative uses of the technology!  Future articles will contain more technical information for developers and such, but for now let’s just get everybody up to speed.

Where have I already seen these things?

Best Practices

  • Use a url-shortener.  The longer the url, the smaller the barcode squares, the harder it is to get an accurate scan.
  • Format the destination content for mobile devices.  Mobile users are the ones who are scanning codes and visiting your site.
  • The content must be engaging.  Reward your users for scanning that code and visiting your url!

Creative Uses of the Technology

Some of these may not have been tried before, or at least are not well-known.

  • Use QR codes in facebook meta tags to allow url’s and content shared via facebook to display a default thumbnail next to your shared content with the QR code pointing to the full url.
  • A mobile app that can both read codes as well as generate them, making them easy to share with other mobile users by having them scan a code directly from your phone’s screen.
  • Add QR codes to the tee boxes at your favorite golf course so that you can quickly get a feel for the layout of the hole, today’s pin placement, and even a leaderboard with the best players’ scores.

Where can I download a reader for my mobile device?

Most smartphone platforms have a reader, here are a few free ones to take a look at …

iPhone – Search for “iCandyMobile” in the App Store on any version of the iPhone, iPod, or iPad for a great free application.

Android – Search for “Barcode Scanner” in the Android Market to get the Google ZXing team’s free app.

Blackberry – Visit http://get.beetagg.com/ from your berry device to install the BeeTagg app for free.

Windows Phone – Visit http://get.beetagg.com/ from your Windows mobile device to install the BeeTagg app for free. This isn’t the best one I’ve seen, but I’ll look for more QR code readers for Windows mobile and post them soon.

Now what?

Install a QR code reader app on your mobile device and keep an eye out in the wild, these things are popping up everywhere!

Remember, today is the last day of voting for my panel topic at next year’s SXSW Interactive Festival! So please take the time to vote for my panel entitled QR Who QR: Exploring QR Codes, it only takes a few mins to sign up for an account, and they won’t spam the heck outta ya.  Leave me a comment or question on the page after you’ve voted, I’d love to hear what people think and it happens to help me in the selection process!

Author: Grant Norwood

Designer of things you click. Vegetable rights activist. Volunteer with tiny humans. Austin-ish, Texas.

People describe me as a rad web developer, product manager, solutions architect, public speaker, volunteer, and non-profit board member.

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