You’ve seen them around, the square bar code boxes that are popping up in magazines, retail locations and packaging. These are called QR Codes (Quick Response) and they are an easy way to bridge your print pieces to the digital realm. Part of their popularity is that you can create QR Codes that perform a variety of actions, including: dialing a phone number, adding a contact, showing a message, sending a text message, and more. The major way we use them here at Trinity is to send someone directly to a specific website.
In order from someone scan a QR code, they need to install a QR Code Reader on their smart phone. There are many available apps for free or just a few bucks. My current favorite is SCAN (available for iOS, Android, Windows, Kindle, etc). Even though installing an app is easy, I believe this is one of the major stumbling blocks to wide spread adoption. There are to many options with confuse people. I’m hoping one of these days Apple and Android will build a QR Code reader directly into the camera or web app.
There are many ways to create a QR Codes, but I strongly recommend goo.gl, Google’s URL shortener. I like it for 3 main reasons.
- It’s FREE- most QR Code makers are, but it’s good to note.
- It’s Easier To Read – Google shortens the URL before turning it into a QR Code, which makes the resulting graphic “less dense” and easier to read. (both these QR Codes link to the same page)
Because it’s not so crammed, it also means you can print it smaller on your page. You have more design freedom as to size and placement.
- Super Simple Tracking – This is the MAJOR reason I like using goo.gl . When you are logged into your gmail account, it keeps track of all the QR Codes that you create. I can easily look back and find out how many people scanned the code, when they scanned it and what kind of device they were using. Here is a sample tracking screen.
There are some very creative uses of QR Codes out there. I’ve seen them at museums to link people to videos describing their exhibit. I’ve also seen them on instruction manuals that show helpful installation videos, and retail displays that give more information to shoppers. Real Estate agents are using them on their lawn signs to link to their virtual tour of their houses.
Currently, we put QR Codes on the back of our Worship Folder and business cards (these link to our main website)and all major outreach flyers, posters and inviter cards (these link directly to the website post that contains event information and registration.) I’ve experimented with printing a large “QR Information Sign” with QR Codes linking to all of our ministries. I found when you have more than one QR Code, while trying to point to the one you want, the QR readers often scan the wrong one. Very frustrating! Note to self: QR Codes are best used one at a time!
It will be curious to see if QR Codes are a passing phase, or if these become a communication staple…or if we move beyond these and augmented reality takes off.