Why use a Quick Reference code on your crafts and products?

Why Use QR Codes At All?

Why not? Firstly, it's free to create a QR code. Visit your preferred QR-making web page or app, create your content, and save the QR code as an image to use wherever.

Secondly, your product and its packaging may be so small that there are few alternatives if you want to smother it in usable content that your customer can access or read?

Take a look-see...

What is a QR Code

QR code: What is a QR Code? Read more...and stop messing with your phone when you should be working!

A QR code is an encoded visual representation of data. QR codes can contain encoded:

  • Website addresses
  • Telephone number links
  • Contact Information (using the VCard format)
  • Free Text - an essay on a coaster.
  • To receive an SMS text

They're Old Hat, No?

QR codes have been around for a while but they are only really becoming useful now.

QR codes fell out of favour around five years ago. Our SmartPhones just weren't that smart at making the user experience of a QR code less than a stress.

Now, almost everyone who is anyone has a powerful QR code scanner and internet connection in their pocket so it makes sense that the QR code should be revived? Even if it doesn't, it still offers opportunities to marketeers, which means there must be a utility for the rest of we mortals?

Where can I use QR codes?

You can print and display QR codes on:

  • Business cards and stationery
  • Promotional flyers, posters, etc.
  • Packaging and, or your product
  • Content that may be printed
  • The screen

How do we use QR codes?

To de-code a QR code, you can use your tablet or smartphone - even your webcam - to scan the code. Your device may need an app.

The QR-scanner displays the QR code content and you then follow the link, save the contact, make a call, or copy/save long content to your device, or even to your Cloud. Links can open Virtual Reality (VR) or Augmented Reality (AR) apps on your phone: some of these are entertaining at the least, and engaging at their best.

Use your imagination - be creative - and a whole new opportunity opens!

A new friend said, "print one out large, and stick it in the window of the car you want to sell". His use-case was that passers by don't need to stop and read the sales poster, but quickly scan the QR code from their car - even as they pass-by. The potential buyer can read all the information they need, or be directed to a webpage. That's a strong use case? So is your shop window for when you are shut, or your bill board pasted where people wait and have nothing better to do but test out the surrounding QR codes?

And your content doesn't HAVE to be serious. Entertain, engage, enthrall!


  • You put on an exhibition. No one likes too much literature around the place. Add QR Code spots that your visitors can explore and from which to learn, link to you, or from which to access additional content and alternative or allied products. Think on this a moment... surely we can see an opportunity?
  • You can afford a single page A6 flyer. It sits among many other enterprise flyers in a wrack. It's the ONLY one with a QR code visible...how much content can you leverage when the curious pass by?
  • You offer free samples at a show. The samples have a QR code on them. What content might you link to?

Keep thinking. You may reach an epiphany!

How do I make a QR Code?

You need the following plan:

  1. Determine your and your customers' needs and environment
  2. Decide on and create your content
  3. Decide on the presentation
  4. Determine the distribution

1. Determine your and your customers' needs and environment

OK. We, as poor, starving creatives we cannot easily go and research each and every one of our customers, but we can make intelligent assumptions:

  • Your customer made their enquiry or purchase via a digital channel (Facebook, Etsy, your Website, etc?)
  • Anyone who is anyone has a smartphone and internet connection in their pocket

There. That was easy. Not 100% correct, but easy. Not perfect, but good enough today. Move on with your plan.

2. Decide on and create your content

We can use a QR code to encode and present the following data:

  • Website addresses
  • Telephone number links
  • Contact Information (using the VCard format)
  • Free Text - an essay on a coaster.

Three of those options are easy: no-brainers bar the choice of which you want to use. The last option is more tricky: free text.

Free text is a risk. The more content - the more characters - you use, the more complex the QR code becomes, which can increase the work your customer needs to do in keeping still. Here are a couple of examples. They all work from my own high-resolution screen, so if the Free Text example doesn't work for you, then learn from that:

  1. The following QR contains only a website address. You can use your smartphone to scan it from the screen:
    QR Website Address
    QR code containing only a website address

    QR Content


  2. This example QR contains a contact card. Scan it with and save it to your smartphone:
    QR VCard
    QR code containing contact V Card

    QR Content

  3. This final example QR code contains a description of a painting I created. You can use your smartphone to scan it from the screen and then to read what it says:
    QR Code Free Text (product information)
    QR code containing long piece of free text

    QR Content

    "Tornado - Job Done (1991)"

    By Pat Godfrey

    The Tornado was the first aircraft I sketched in earnest way back when c1983. It was then a Panavia prototype. I saw it fly overhead one day and simply had to find images to draw from. In 1991, the Tornado featured in Desert Storm (Gulf War 1); its crew's body art hinting at the 'spirit' of early air combat. Six aircraft failed to return home; two crew were lost, four tortured. As sleek as aeronautics are, the juxtaposition between beauty, weapons delivery, and risk is challenging.

    Painting in digital media

    Painted using a WACOM Cintiq tablet on OSX Corel Painter 2017 using acrylics, pastels, and pencil.

    Printed on A3+ acid-free archival art paper with 12-pigment LUCIA ink and an acrylic coating.

    The print is "museum" archival quality and should not fade for over 100 years. However, as with all artworks, keep the print out of direct Sun light.

    This image is Copyright Pat Godfrey 2017. Under Copyright Law, you are not entitled to reproduce this artwork or its likeness for profit.

In case you want to see the Tornado, you can see it on my @artofpatgodfrey Facebook page. As the QR code is presented on the screen, we can make it a link for screen users to click. This makes the screen presentation of the QR code accessible to non-visual users.

QR code link to the Tornado

There are QR code generators that enable customised content. This one from QRicket contains a link to Google Maps that your device or app may, or may not want to open as a link. It may be cool - you can update the colour and add text. On my phone, it presents the link in Free Text, and copying it to a browser is the only way to launch the Google Maps app. It's a bit of a faff, but it does save the work needed to mark the map that 'manual' methods may require from a printed map longitude/latitude?

QR code - Google Map link

3. Decide on the Presentation

How are you going to deploy the QR code? It doesn't really matter but be certain to test the code once you have printed it, or when you display it on a screen, etc. Test it from your customer's experience, not only your own.

If you are printing QR codes, be very certain the quality of print is good, particularly where the QR code contains a great deal of content. QRStuff.com gives you loads of detail.

Here’s a prototype gallery information card for one of my paintings:

QR code - Experience Learning Too

And a screen-grab of a vCard placed on the ARTBANK Bunclody webpage footer:

QR code on ARTBANK Bunclody website

4. Determine the distribution

We can place our QR codes where we wish but try to plan for what your customers are doing at the time they may access the code. For example, your customer may only want to eagerly open your packaging - not read or scan it. Perhaps the code is better placed on a product tag? I don't know: your customers' situations will vary. Test them?

QR codes are time capsules. If the content encoded in them updates, then how will you update those QR codes that you have distributed? It's worth planning ahead.

Size and definition matters. Print and display carefully.

Where do I start?

I have found the QR Code Generator an easy experience to follow. It's free-to-use and you can enhance your experience with editable QR codes later by signing in with your Google account (it's not Google though, so read the Google privacy caveat).

Simply enter you content of either a Free Text, URL, Contact VCard, Phone, or SMS and click Save. The code generates before your eyes, so you can gauge its complexity.

What should I worry about?

There have been instances of QR codes being used maliciously, but as you are the generator of your QR code you don't need to worry about that. You may need to reassure your customers.

Poor tales and stories of low uptake of QR codes are outdated in 2017. The QR code is an incredible technology available for many years before our pocket technology had caught up. And now everyone who is anyone has a "mobile" device, the time for QR codes is NOW!

Scan Speed and other hassles

Perhaps this should be better highlighted. The less content the code has, the easier and quicker the scanner can access it.

Beware when you print a QR code containing lots of free text that your customer may need to be very steady when scanning it. If you reduce its size too much, it may take so long that it seems broken - and indeed, it may be by poor quality printing.

Always, always test your QR codes "in your customer's environment" before sending them out to your customers. Remember, what seems a short delay in scanning to you, may be a lifetime to your naturally impatient customer.

Anything Else?

Creatives! You can pretty up your QR codes with colours and images!!! Just be sure to test them!

QR code - Experience Learning Too

QR codes can be tracked! You can sign up for a service that tracks when your QR code links are followed by your customers using their QR code scanning apps. Be wary, this may not be possible where your user mistrusts the scanner apps, and copies links and content by hand into their browser. It may be worth a go if you like your statistics.

Get an App

There are plenty of apps. I've tried two. The one that stole my breath for iPhone was QR Reader for iPhone by TapMedia. It was the faster and more accurate by far. There are others. Try them. Find what suits you and your operating system. However, it opened links automatically, which may not make you entirely comfortable so be sure to update the settings - and then - wow!

QR code - Have a nice day!



Popular posts from this blog

Click or Tap? Misunderstanding of Affordance

"Click Here" for Useful Link Writing