3 Best Practices for Generating Reliable QR Codes

Today I was leafing through a magazine full of ads with QR codes.

Unfortunately, most of the QR codes did not work due to some common errors that can be easily remedied.

The video above shows how to avoid these these errors, with more specific tips provided below.

#1 – Short URL’s Create Cleaner Codes

Longer url’s create more complex codes.  While it is possible for these codes to function properly, they are not as reliable in less than optimal conditions – such as when used on reflective surfaces.

Whenever possible, use a link shortener such as bit.ly to shorten your url before generating the code.  My favorite QR code generator is Kerem Erkan.  He also has created the Qrafter iPhone app that doubles as a code generator and a fully functional QR code reader or scanner.

#2 – Larger Codes are More Reliable

It is best to make your QR codes as large as possible – with 1″ x 1″ being the smallest size that is still reliable under virtually all conditions.  What are the less than optimal conditions that will require a cleaner and larger code?

  1. Reflective surfaces – such as magazines and scanning directly from a computer screen
  2. Outdoors – where there may be a tendancy for the code to fade or be obscured by debris
  3. Scanning from greater distances – such as when the code is on a billboard
  4. Irregular surfaces – such as on the side of a curved beverage container
  5. Low light conditions
  6. Colorful QR codes – other than black and white
  7. Scanning with older camera phones

#3 – A Generous Quiet Zone is Essential

The border around your QR code is known as the quiet zone.  If the dimension of this space is too narrow, the code will not resolve to the intended url or other desired action.

The rule of thumb is to have a quiet zone that is at least 4 times the width of the modules of your QR code.  The modules are the (typically) black squares and rectangles that make up the code.

The quiet zone is ideally white or a light color.  So, the common mistake is to trim back the quiet zone when copying the code and then placing it on a black background as shown in in the video above.

If you want to learn more about QR codes, here are some additional resources.

How You Can Grow Your Business with QR Codes

A Versatile QR Code Generator

QR Codes Like Your Facebook Page

I’ve written an extensive article on how to run a successful QR code marketing campaign.  Look for that sometime in September.

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Until tomorrow,  Jeff