QR Codes and How to Use Them

While the hype around QR codes has certainly stilled since their first introduction to the world, QR codes are a great way to direct people to your website or get your business information.

The reason is that basically everyone has a device capable of reading QR codes now. Back when they were first introduced, many people would have had to install a third-party app to be able to read QR codes, but nowadays, the built-in camera app in most smartphones is capable of reading and scanning them. Ever since iOS 11 introduced QR code reading functionality to the Camera app, it's safe to assume that just about everyone with a non-broken smartphone can read your QR codes.

QR codes make people interact with your printed designs. More than merely glancing at your design over, they pull out their phone, point it at the code and get taken to the destination of your choosing. The longer they spend interacting with your design, the longer you have to make a lasting, positive impression.

And QR codes don't have to be purely utilitarian, they can be integrated into the design so it becomes a piece of art itself.

Of course, certain considerations need to be taken into account when designing with QR codes.

First, contrast. You're free to use any colour in your QR code, but you need to maintain a certain level of contrast for people to be able to read your QR code. A light yellow QR code on white probably won't be able to be read. Likewise for grey on black QR codes.

Second, size. If the QR code is too small, it makes it very difficult to read. If in doubt, just print out an actual size version of your document on an office printer and see if your phone can read it.

Third, take into account where your QR code will be. If you're printing this on a banner that will be hung from a very high place, people will have a hard time scanning the code.

Fourth, tell people what the QR code does! Don't leave them in the dark, provide a call-to-action along with the QR code that lets them know where the QR code takes you. If the QR code leads to your website, include text with the QR code along the lines of 'Scan here to visit our website'.

Overall, QR codes are a great way to get people engaging with a printed design that they might not have before.

If you're looking at creating a QR code, there's plenty of online generators available with free or paid options.

However, if you have Adobe InDesign, then a QR code generator is already built-in. Under Object > Generate QR Code, you'll be able to create QR codes that either leads to a website, a string of text, a text message, an email or business card.

Lastly, always check if the QR code works before it goes to print. Make sure it can be scanned, and that it directs your customers to the right place before printing.