Created in 1994 by the Japanese company Denso Wave, the use of QR codes has increased dramatically in the wake of this pandemic. Restaurants, shops, public administrations, companies and organizations have contributed to making QR codes the main communication system with customers in their facilities.
QR codes, the name they get from their acronym in English: Quick Response code, could be defined as a matrix made up of colored modules that contain alphanumeric information. Depending on the amount of information that needs to be stored, the resulting QR code will have a greater or lesser number of modules. The most common are usually 25 × 25 modules, although they can form 117 × 117 modules matrices.
There are also micro QR codes capable of storing 21 alphanumeric characters or 35 numbers. Unlike the standard QR code, these small arrays only feature a position detection pattern and a 2-module margin around the resulting symbol.
In addition to these two types, there are also iQR, SQRC, and Frame QR codes:
IQR Codes: can be generated with square or rectangular modules. The maximum version can have 422 x 422 modules, which allows storage of around 40,000 numbers.
SQRC: these are QR codes that have a reading restriction function. They are used to store the private or internal information of a company. Its appearance is equal to the standard.
QR Frame: In this type of QR code, there is a “canvas area” that can be used flexibly. It allows you to insert images, letters, drawings, etc., in this area, so they are usually used for promotions.
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How To Generate QR Codes
As we have already mentioned, QR codes have been standardized in businesses such as the hospitality industry, for example, for functions as simple as making the menu available to customers without contact with any object.
Museums and exhibitions are also making use of this type of matrix so that visitors can access a digital document with information about the works, museum services, facilities.
What Kind Of Information Can Be Encoded?
Although the most widespread function of QRs is the link to a web page, these matrices can contain several types of information:
- Link To Email: being able to define a subject and predetermined message.
- Telephone: so they can call directly, send an SMS, add it to contacts or simply copy it as text.
- SMS: as in the case of emails, you can set both the number to which the message will be sent and a predefined text.
- VCARD: a very simple way to share contacts by providing a large number of information: name, surname, company or organization, position, work phone and private phone, email, address …
- MECARD: like the vCard, but contains fewer data. Of course, you can include a birthday date in case it is useful for your goals.
- Place: QR codes containing an address can be created. To configure them, you can enter both the exact address and the latitude and longitude coordinates.
- Facebook Profile.
- Twitter Profile.
- Youtube Channel.
- WIFI Data: It is very interesting in businesses such as hotels and cafes … You can share your Wi-Fi ID and password through the QR.
- Event: name, place, date, and time of a specific event.
- Bitcoin: you can receive payments with Bitcoin by setting a QR code.
When it comes to generating QR codes, many online platforms and applications allow you to create them easily and for free. Let’s see the two most complete and recommended platforms:
Online Platforms To Generate QR Codes.
Most online platforms to create QR codes are free, although some require registration or subscription to use certain functionalities.
QR Code Monkey
QR Code Monkey is one of the easiest to use platforms to generate free QR codes. Available in 3 languages: English, German and Spanish, it offers a very intuitive interface in which it is only necessary to choose the type of information to be encoded: URL, text, email, vCard, place …, and fill in the corresponding form.
The resulting QR can be customized by setting the desired colour: flat colour or a gradient; adding the logo or a central image and choosing the design of the modules, the frame of the position detection pattern (eye frame on the platform), and the inner shape of the pattern (eye shape in QR Code Monkey). In this way, you can adapt the design to the image of your business or organization. The result can be something like:
QR Code Generator
With functions and operation very similar to the previous platform, QR Code Generator does not include the content “place” but does add for users who register:
- the ability to share MP3 (music, audiobooks or podcast on a customizable mobile player),
- directly share PDF documents,
- direct download of applications from the App Store, Play Store or Amazon Appstore,
- share image galleries.
The subscription, whose registration is free and offers you a 15-day trial, also offers the possibility of tracking the scans that a given QR code receives to know both the amount and the place from which it has been done.
In addition to changes to the shape, colour, and inclusion of the logo or image, the QR Code Generator’s subscription option allows you to add a frame around the code with a call to action of the type Scan me!
Apps To Create QR Codes
If you prefer to generate your QR codes from your mobile or tablet, you also have many applications that allow you to do so. Two of the most valued are:
QR Code Generator
With more than 500,000 downloads and a 4.8 rating in the Play Store, you can generate all kinds of QR codes and scan them.
It allows all the design options and offers some templates if you prefer to edit them and adapt them to your information. You can also save a design as a template for future content you want to convert to QR.
QR Code Generator/TIGER
Another highly-rated app on the Play Store is TIGER Creator, which has more than 50,000 downloads and a rating of 4.9.
In addition to generating QR codes for all types of content, Creator TIGER adds a dynamic option that allows data to be tracked and edited with ease. Tracking data includes, but is not limited to, how many devices have scanned the code and from which specific cities. Results can be filtered by days, weeks, months, or years.
Tips For Generating QR Codes
When generating QR codes, keep the following tips in mind:
The Design: keep in mind that users recognize a QR code in its standard format. Making any changes to the shape of the patterns and modules can cause the user not to know how to interact. Do not forget to add calls to action in your designs and use colours that contrast with the background.
The Content: as we mentioned initially, the more information a QR code contains, the more complex the resulting matrix is. To avoid this, keep in mind that, for example, in the case of containing a very long URL, you can use a shortener such as bit.ly
Do Tests: once the code has been generated, test its operation on different types of devices. High-end and low-end terminals under Android or iOS operating system. Test that the reader not only identifies the information but also performs the action for which it has been designed in QR: go to a URL, download a vCard, view a place on Maps …
Verify The Information: make sure that the information you have entered is correct.
Integration Of The QR Code: if you are going to include the code in a brochure, a poster, or any other type of support, remember that it is very important to respect a white margin around the matrix to ensure its reading.
Applications To Read QR Codes
Users have become accustomed to scanning instead of touching. A large number of smartphones allow you to read QR codes with the same camera application. But, in case this is not the case with your device, these are the best apps to read QR codes:
Created to offer you many more functions than reading QR codes, Google Lens, Google’s free application available in its suite of apps, scans these matrices quickly and easily. It can also be used to scan barcodes.
In addition, Google Lens offers you a series of functions and interaction options compatible with the rest of the native Google applications.
It has more than 500 million downloads and a 4.5 rating on the Play Store.
Gamma Play QR / Barcode Scanner
A simple and easy-to-use app. It allows you to save a history of the QR readings made. Depending on the type of information, it also offers a series of related functions: open in the browser or share in URL, add a contact, call, show on map or share in case of vCard, etc.
This application for scanning QR codes has more than 100 million downloads and a 4.7 rating on the Play Store.
QR Reader For iPhone
Although the Camera application of any iPhone device includes the QR code scanner, TapMedia’s QR Reader is a good option if you want a specific application for your Apple device.
In addition to scanning, it also allows you to create QR codes on iPhone and iPad, request your approval from the websites before visiting them, generate CSV files of your scans that you can export and download, integrate the web browser and the map view.
This QR reader for iPhone has a 4.7 rating on the App Store.