Getting Started With QR Codes
My first exposure to QR codes was three years ago at a convention in Fresno, Calif. My wife and I had a booth to promote a new side business: our own brand of instrument care kits. During the convention, one of my reps dropped by and showed me how QR codes worked on his iPhone. Little did I know they were going to be an easy and inexpensive way to promote what we were already doing.
A QR code is different than a barcode because it can be scanned from any direction and is much more data-intensive. QR codes also have an error-correction capability. Up to 30 percent of the image can be corrupted, and the code will still work.
The more I learn about QR codes, the more I'm amazed by all their uses. Retailers put them on products with links to product-info pages. Real-estate brokers put QR codes on sale signs with links to home or business info. Educators put the codes on assignments with links to webinars. Since QR codes aren't size-limited, you will even see them on billboards. QR codes also have extended-experience applications. For example, when you scan the QR code on an American Girl doll tag, you get an additional story about the doll. I believe this application has the greatest use for music products retailers.
So how do you get a QR code reader? Pick up your cell phone, and go to the app store. There are plenty of free QR code readers available, and they all work pretty much the same way. Once you have your app, select it and aim your phone at the code you wish to scan. That's it.
How do you make a QR code? There are many sites where you can download free QR codes, but qrstuff.com is my favorite. It’s free and very easy to use. Since QR codes are open-source files, no fees or license is needed.
At qrstuff.com, you simply select the data type you want to use in step one, provide your link or content in step two, and preview your code in step three. Your last move, step four, is to select your output type. The most common selection is to download the file in .png format. Most all printers like this format because of its high resolution and Photoshop compatibility. Another option is to download the code as an email attachment and send it straight to your printer. Even though the basic QR code is available for free, you can pay extra for codes with artwork or higher error-correction levels.
One word of advice regarding printing: Always proof your codes with one or two different smartphones. It’s easy to download the codes in the wrong format. You want to be sure your codes get you where you want and work with different browsers.
Now start putting QR codes to work for you!