A beginners guide to QR Codes

Posted by on 02 Jul 2012 | Category: Hints & Tips


We often get asked about QR Codes, as many people are still unsure how to make or use them. So we’ve put together some information for frequently asked questions that may be of help to you. This list is by no means exhaustive, so let us know in the comments below in you need any further information.


Q/ We were wondering about adding a QR Code on the bottom right of our business card linking to our website. Do we have to pay CQ to design it or can we make one ourselves?

A/ While this IS a service we offer (our designers can create them for you), you can make them yourself. A quick google search will find many websites that provide free online QR Code generation. I’ve tried quite a few and my favourite so far is Kerem Erkan’s QR Code generator. It has a lot of options to choose from and follows established QR Code standards strictly. As you scroll down you’ll see there are options including linking to websites, watching a video, sending a TXT, email or tweet, creating a calendar event, creating a vcard, and even more.

Tip/ A little known service that CQ can provide is batch creation of personalised QR Codes from excel spread sheets. This is an extremely powerful marketing tool to use when you are sending a personalised printed piece to a client. The call to action can be by sending them to a unique personalised web address (also known as a PURL – Personalised Uniform Resource Locator) either by entering the address in a browser or scanning the unique QR Code. This is a great way to measure the effectiveness of your campaign.

Q/ How small can the QR Code be and still work?

A/ From my own experience I would recommend a minimum size of 20mm square if it’s simply a link to a website or video. If it’s for a vcard (a file format standard for electronic business cards) which has all of your contact details and is therefore a lot more detailed I would recommend a minimum size of 30mm square.

The best way to see how small you can make the code is to print the QR code out at different sizes and test it with your phone. If you don’t have the ability to scan it, ask us and we’ll test it with recommendations if required.


Q/ What is the best QR Code app to use?

A/ Where does one start?!! There are many new apps coming out all of the time, as well as very good updates and improvements on existing ones.

· A round up of iPhone QR Code Reader apps can be found here

· A round up of Android QR Code Reader apps is found here

These articles were written in 2011 though, and many other good apps have come out since then, but these links are a still good place to start.


Q/ OK Dean, I used the website to make a QR for a vCard, and using an Android app to check it. The vCard is very good, although the one thing that’s not good is that I can’t get the URL to sit in the website category when it’s saved onto the phone as a contact – it sits in either nickname or notes. And I can’t touch it to go to the site.

A/ If you have entered the correct information into each of the fields, your QR Code will be correct. It is often a problem with the QR Code reader app that was used. Some of them don’t save all vcard details correctly into your phones’ contacts.

As an example, I have tested vCard QR Codes on different apps and found that Scanlife let me save to contacts but didn’t include the URL, whereas Neoreader saved to contacts perfectly – the URL was in the correct place and launched the browser when tapped.

Q/ How effective have you found QR Codes to be?

A/ To be honest, QR Codes are still in their infancy. While CQ first introduced them on this blog three years ago, I would say that common use of them in marketing has only really started in Australia and New Zealand this year.

In October 2011, 300 people (in tech-savvy San Francisco) were tested with a sign with a QR code on it with the phrase: "Free gift if you can tell what this is."

  • 11 percent correctly answered QR code or quick response code
  • 29 percent responded with "Some barcode thingy"
  • Seven percent guessed some variant of "Those things you stare at that get 3D when you cross your eyes.
  • The remaining 53 percent tried everything from a secret military code, Korean, to an aerial street map of San Francisco

Of those who guessed what it was, only 35% of them knew that it was read by their phone.

Then, only 45% of those people were able to do it.

If you do the math (100 divided by 11 divided by 35 divided by 45) that’s only 0.017% of the population that knew what to do with the QR Code.

This percentage is expected to increase dramatically, but we must use QR Codes wisely, otherwise the market won’t accept them.


Q/ What are common mistakes to avoid?


  • Linking to a website that isn’t optimised for mobile phones. If you don’t have the budget to do this then link to a service like Facebook or Linkedin that can. Try the QR Code at the top of this article to link to CQ’s mobile optimised Facebook page.
  • Not Testing the Code. Always test the proofs with a variety of smartphones and scanning apps before you release a code.
  • Not Offering Enough Value. Make it worthwhile by offering videos, photos, exclusive access, free downloads, “Instant Win” contests, special offers, “secret information”, or integration with social media to activate viral loops.
  • Think about where your QR Code is going to be placed. Is it large enough if at a long distance away? Is it accessible? Is Wi-Fi or 3G available in that location?

This QR Code probably fails on all three points (click on it to see a larger version):


Crawl down here and scan this code, but MIND THE GAP!

In upcoming articles, we’ll share ideas for good uses of QR Codes, as well as highlighting some more technology that has become available in the growing connection between physical places and objects and the digital world.


If you’ve had experience with QR Codes from a user, technical or a marketing perspective, we would love to hear your story.

How effective have you found them to be?

Did you have any problems to work through?

What have you found that does (or doesn’t) work?

Also if you think that any of the answers provided in this article are incorrect please comment below. All feedback is welcome.

– Dean

Your touchscreen can “read” this ink

Posted by on 15 Apr 2012 | Category: Industry Trends

Source: gigaom

Ever since the smartphone era began, companies have looked for ways to quickly get information from the offline product world onto the phone. Barcode scanning is a popular approach while QR codes and proprietary tags, such as those from Microsoft, are other solutions. These all require cameras and specifically printed codes; what if we could just use what looks like a standard ink solution and the touchscreen on our phones?



That’s exactly the idea behind Printechnologic’s Touchcode; the German company has developed an electronic print product with interactivity. Printed material using Touchcode technology looks no different than a standard print product, is recyclable and can be used on a range of products, such as tickets, food items, business cards, or nearly anything that you can put ink on. A customizable electronic code embedded in the print process interacts with a phone’s capacitive screen, much like your fingers do, giving the handset a web address or file download, for example. Here’s how the company describes it:

“Touchcode is an invisible electronic code printed on paper, cardboard, film or labels. Just put the product on the display of your smartphone/tablet/multitouch device to read the data – no matter if you’d like to confirm the authenticity of your brand product or make your card game come to life. With Touchcode, you add interactivity to just about any product.”

It’s a simply elegant solution and takes advantage of the growing number of touchscreen devices in the mobile market. DisplaySearch estimates that 2011 saw 566 million touch screen shipments for mobile phones, with rapid expansion going forward. Here’s an interactive video demo on the Touchcode.de website showing how Touchcode works and explaining the many possibilities for the product:


Touchcode is ingenious because it directly bridges the physical and digital worlds with a medium that’s been used for thousands of years: Ink. The products looks no different than any printed medium today. And they gain the extra characteristic of working with a capacitive touch screen.

Imagine tapping a printed card in Starbucks to your handset for a direct download of the tune currently playing. Maybe a printed concert ticket can open up a web page with the artist’s bio or an advance listen to an upcoming but unpublished song. Or instead of manually logging your food with a barcode, the food packaging itself contains a link to the nutritional values and can log the entry for you while also providing relevant recipes.

The idea behind these interactive codes has really never been the problem in adoption. Instead, the implementations haven’t been quite as universal as they need to be. Near-field communications, or NFC, tags could help, but they require both the tag and a phone with an NFC reader. Barcodes are probably the next best thing up until now, but are an electronic-only solution; unless you’ve learned to “read” a barcode yourself, they add little value alone.

Printed materials with Touchcode technology offer two solutions, however. The printed information itself is understandable by anyone who can read while extra information or links to other data works with a touch-capable smartphone. I’d call that a win all around if Touchcode can get clients to start using its codes during the print process.

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