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Using QR Codes in Graphic Design and Marketing Efforts

Learning to love these easy to use informative graphics.

I find using QR codes in my graphic design projects functional and effective. You have probably seen these codes in airport terminals, in magazine ads, business cards at your last conference, even on an envelope.

What are QR codes?

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 printed materials from as large as a billboard to as small as a business card. As long as it can be scanned by a handheld device like a phone or tablet.

When scanned, the code can give the user a host of information. A web site address; contact information like a name, title, phone, address; social media links; and even 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 and clients.

With a simple scan of their device they can add all of your contact information into their contacts. Fast networking, no typing necessary.

They can go right to your web site and order the product/service they saw highlighted in a print ad. Convenience for them, profit for you.

Instead of listing a long URL on your white paper or conference program, use a QR code. Users can get right to your article without typing on their phone and possibly getting the URL wrong. No one gets lost.

QR Code for Tiger-Studios.com
Scan this QR code with your phone or tablet to get the contact information for Tiger Studios.

How do I use a QR code?

Depending on the amount of content your QR code contains, your graphic 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 QR code can quickly be created, downloaded as an EPS and added to your marketing material.

A few rules of thumb for a successful QR code:

  • The code needs to be large enough and detailed enough to work. If the printing of the code is too fuzzy or small it will not work. Use an EPS file if you can.
  • There needs to be enough contrast between the code and the background for the device to read it. That is why you usually see codes in black on a white background.
  • Add some white space around the code. You don't want to have graphics or text interfere with the scanning of the code.
  • Test to make sure the code works and shows the information you want. Print out your piece before you send it to the printer. Scan it with your phone. Check to make sure it works and the information correct.

Codes can come in colors and even with graphics. It depends on your graphic design project 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.

By Kim Adams