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Understanding QR Codes
QR codes, or quick response codes, are popping up all over the place. They are showing up on the back of my bills, business cards, and even the church bulletin! QR codes are those squares containing three large black boxes on the perimeter of the square and many smaller black boxes within the square. The smaller boxes can form either a random pattern or an actual image.
So what’s the fuss about QR codes? The neat thing about them is that they save time. They give you the ability to go directly to a website, access account information quickly or benefit from store promotions. Most Smartphones have a barcode scanner application on them. Simply open the barcode scanner application and hold the camera on your phone over the QR code. A window will appear with a red line running down the center. At this point, a bunch of things happen between your phone and the QR.
I could explain how it works in very convoluted tech jargon, but that would probably make your eyes roll back in your head. If you are really interested, it goes something like this: the barcode sensor creates an analog signal; a converter changes that analog signal to a digital signal; a decoder converts it to a format your phone recognizes and voila, you are looking at the information tied to the QR code on your phone. You can pull that information out at your next dinner party if things start to get a little dull.
QR codes are great if you have big fingers or just bumble when typing in a website address or a person’s contact information. They give you the ability to scan and upload information easily. They are helpful at conferences and other events where people do not have time to write down much information, or they can even be used at a daycare center to make sure the child is going home with the right person or to keep track of medicines and allergies.
If you own a business that uses this technology, the chance of people actually using your QR code increases dramatically if you give them a reason to use it. After all, you want them to visit your website, Facebook page or YouTube video so you can get their contact information or increase your sales. For example, if I had a booth at conference, I would make sure people had to scan the QR code to see if they had won a prize. A restaurant could use the QR code to offer a discount…but include their full menu as well.
QR codes are easy to generate and are usually free. Sites such as http://qrcode.kaywa.com/, http://www.qrstuff.com/, or http://redlaser.com/application/qr-codes/ give you the ability to create your own QR code. Once created, you can save it for later use or copy and paste it into documents such as brochures, postcards, posters or advertisements. QR codes can even be printed on clothing, but place them carefully to avoid awkwardness.
QR codes can be beneficial if use correctly. Consider the target audience and what information would be most useful to them. You get one shot to make the QR code relevant and useful to your audience. Be sure to give them a reason to scan your code.