The Do’s and Don’ts of QR Codes

02 Jul 2012
by John Foley
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It is safe to say that QR Codes are everywhere these days. But the real question is, are people using QR Codes correctly?

To answer that question, additional questions need to be asked. These may include: “Are the QR Codes big enough to be scanned easily and quickly? Do the QR Codes link to a mobile website? If they have been customized graphically, do they contain scannable color schemes?”

If you are wondering if you’re using QR Codes correctly, we have some help to offer you!

Below are some Do’s and Don’ts for using QR Codes.

Do’s for QR Code Usage

1. Do make sure that your QR Code is large enough. From our own testing and usage, a QR Code should be NO smaller than 1/2″ x 1/2″. If possible, it’s wise to make sure that your QR Code is at least a 3/4″ x 3/4″. As the cameras on our phones continue to get better, more people will have the ability to scan smaller QR Codes. However, there are still plenty of people walking around with phones that would have major trouble scanning a 1/2″ QR Code.

2. Do make sure that there is enough white space/padding around your QR Code. Learn more about white space and QR Codes here.

3. Do make sure you have simple directions next to the QR Code. This can be as simple as saying “Scan the QR Code with your smartphone to learn more”, or “Don’t have a QR Code reader? Download one from your App store”.


4. Do offer some kind of incentive for people to scan the QR Code. This could be something such as”Scan the QR Code to win an iPad”, or perhaps “For more information on this event, scan the QR Code now!”

5. Do add QR Codes to your printed materials. Business cards, brochures, magazine advertisements, etc. Make print interactive and start reaching the growing mobile audience!

6. Do add an image to your QR Code if you’d like to find a way to make it stand out. Learn more about adding an image to a QR Code here.

7. Do consider changing up the color of your QR Code to make it match your design. Learn more about color options when it comes to QR Codes here.

8. Do track your QR Codes efforts! Make sure that you know how many people are scanning and what printed materials they are responding to.

9. Do make sure that your QR Code points to a mobile website.

10. Do create your QR Code in a way that allows you to change the destination URL at any time.

11. Do shorten the destination URL when creating the QR Code.

Don’ts for QR Code Usage

1. Do not make your QR Code too small.

2. Do not have a QR code that links to a standard, desktop-based website.

3. Do not make your QR Codes in color combinations that are hard to scan. Light colored QR Codes do not scan well. Same goes for dark QR Codes on dark backgrounds.

4. Do not forget to put directions along with your QR Code or a call-to-action. Just having a plain QR Code on your piece is not going to attract people to scan it or teach people “how” to scan it.

5. Do not put your QR Codes on items that are useless for people to scan – i.e a highway billboard (no one driving 70mph down the highway is going to be able to scan it).

6. Do NOT cover or distort the 3 squares in the corners of the QR Code. If you cover any 3 of them your QR Code will NOT scan successfully.

Mobile + Print: Better Together!

We hope that you find these tips helpful as you look for ways to reach the mobile audience!

We truly believe that QR Codes are one of the best ways to integrate mobile into your printed materials.

If you would like more tips on how to succeed with QR Codes, download our free “QR Code Success Toolkit” today!


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