Using QR Codes in Graphic Design and Marketing Efforts

By Kim Adams

Learning to love these easy to use graphics

I have started to work with QR codes in my graphic design projects and find them functional and effective. You have probably seen them in the airport, on magazine ads, a business card at your last networking meeting, even on an envelope. Or maybe your only exposure has been my tweets about this very topic.

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What is a QR code?

A QR Code is a graphic that is square and made up of small boxes in a seemingly random pattern. The code is used on various printed material from as large as a billboard to as small as a business card. This simple graphic holds information that can be scanned by a handheld device such as a phone, iPod or tablet.

When scanned it can give the user a web site address; contact information including name, title, phone and address; social media links or just a simple message.

Why would I want to use a QR Code?

Being able to scan a QR Code is a major convenience for your customers. With a simple scan of their device they can add all of your contact information into their address book. No typing necessary. Or they can go right to your web site and order the product they saw highlighted in your print ad. Convenience for them, profit for you.

How do I use a QR Code?

Depending on the amount of content your code contains, your code can have many complex boxes or only a few boxes. The example on this page is more complex because it contains a lot of contact information. Using a free online service, a code can quickly be created, downloaded and added to your marketing material.

In order for the code to be scanned successfully it needs to be large enough and detailed enough to work. If the printing of the code is too fuzzy or small the code will not work. There also needs to be enough contrast for the code to be clear. That is why you usually see codes in black on a white background.

That does not mean it needs to be that way. Codes can come in colors and even with graphics. It depends on your application and what makes sense for the design. Always keep in mind the usability of the code—if it does not scan it is not working for you.

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