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Mistakes That Make Your QR Codes Worthless Cheat Sheet (DRAFT) by [deleted]

Mistakes That Make Your QR Codes Worthless

This is a draft cheat sheet. It is a work in progress and is not finished yet.


QR (Quick Response) codes–­those little black squares within a square that are appearing in ads in newspa­pers, magazines and direct mail coupon­s–are everywhere in the past few months. You may have even seen a few on business cards or brochures.

You now have the ability to link the physical world to your website. You can offer contests, more product inform­ation, entert­aining videos, or even have the person click to call your business. Done the right way, this is powerful stuff!

But, so many of these clever marketing initia­tives are just wasted dollars because of three MAJOR mistakes.

1. The QR Code Is Too Small

Delivr Corpor­ation offers a QR code generator for web and print use. Here are their guidelines for sizing:

QR Code Printing Guidelines & Best Practices
32 × 32 mm or 1.25 × 1.25 inches, excluding quiet zone (the white space included around the QR Code in the EPS) is the minimum size that guarantees that ALL camera phones on the market can properly read the QR Code.

26 × 26 mm or roughly 1 square inch, excluding quiet zone covers 90% of the phones on the market. – OUR CURRENT RECOMM­END­ATION
The latest camera models, which have improved macro capabi­lities, can deal with QR Codes that are less than 10 mm (0.4 in) wide and high.

For example, an iPhone 4 will be able to scan this size, but an iPhone 2/3.x with 2.0 megapixel camera and no auto-focus may not.

For good reader accuracy good contrast between the background and the bar color itself is very important. The bar code should have a dark color on a light backgr­ound. You cannot go wrong by treating the QR Code as line art, using black on white.

QR Codes printed at 37.5cm (14.764 inches) x 37.5cm (14.764 inches) using several popular QR Code Readers across iPhone, Android, and BlackBerry had a successful scanning distance varying between 5′ – 19′. Most all QR Code readers worked at 7′-10′.”

QR Margins

Every QR code needs a space around it or “Quiet Zone” so that the auto focus of the phone’s camera can accurately focus on the QR code. The recomm­ended space is four modules or individual squares wide on all four sides.

Here is an example of the correct amount of spacing from the Denso-Wave website.

2. The QR Code Doesn’t Link to a Mobile Website

When a mobile phone user snaps a picture of your QR code, the subsequent action takes place on the phone. Too many of us overes­timate the capabi­lities of Smartp­hones to display our regular websites. Because of its smaller screen size, Smartp­hones only display a small section of most websites built for the desktop. Unless your website was specif­ically designed to re-size for mobile, the mobile web browser will add scroll bars to the side and bottom of your website on a small screen. Scrolling is tedious and makes it easy to miss inform­ation.

So before you launch a marketing campaign with QR codes, test your website with Mobile­ free tool. It is important to check out how your website looks on other phones even if you own an iPhone or Android phone and have already tested with that.

3. Ignoring the Other 30% of Mobile Phone Users

According to comScore, 30 % of mobile phone users still have feature phones. You want these customers to check out your offer on their desktops. It is easy to add a caption to your QR code giving the shortened URL so that feature phone users can access the inform­ation too. This expands the number of potential customers who might see your ad or offer. I am always surprised that more ads don’t have the URL.

Smartphone adoption is growing very fast! See the blue line on the chart above. But, not all Smartp­hones have a QR code reader built in. All of the phone platforms have QR code reader apps that can be downloaded for free. Here’s a list of the top readers for each platform.