Let’s start with the basics.

What is a QR Code?

A QR (abbreviated Quick Response) code is a two-dimensional matrix barcode used for scanning. Just like a regular barcode, by scanning it, the QR code can output various informations.

  • Text
  • URL
  • Phone Number
  • Vcard / Contact Card
  • Wifi Access (Android only)

For example, rather than having to fumble with typing a long URL and be subjected to typos, you can scan a QR code and it’ll direct you to a website.

People who see these codes could use an app on their mobile phones to scan and view information immediately. My personal favorite apps are RedLaser for iPhone and QR Droid for Android.

QR Code Tips

QR codes are gaining high popularity (9,480% increase from 2010 to 2011) despite its various barriers – requires an app, minimal awareness (6% of Americans used QR codes as of June 2011) and other options.

Should you use QR codes, here are some suggestions.

Creative Custom Codes

Avoid the generic black pixelated codes. That’s boring. Change the colors and so forth! Thanks to QRHacker.com, they’ve created a nice platform for creating your own custom QR code … even with a logo embedded. Below is mine along with other examples.

tofurious qr code

cool qr code examples


Don’t make a QR code just for the sake of a QR code. Make sure that they have a purpose – such as to avoid long URLs.

For example, use it to link to a specific product, portfolio or other qualitative information like contacts or coupons!

best buy qr code

Best Buy uses QR codes so that customers can read reviews and detailed information about specific products.


If you simply say, Like me on Facebook. No one is going to care. Give people reason(s) to want to engage with you.

As an example, using content strategy, pet photographers could share cool dog treats on their blogs. Of course, make sure to include a photo of your dog enjoying the new treat. This is, by the way, a great opportunity for you to show off your photography.

bbc food qr

BBC included an awesome call to action for readers – scan for recipe! And if you were a food photographer, include a photo of the dish.

The ideas are endless …

Custom Landing Pages

Since QR codes are used by mobile devices, it’d be sensible to create a mobile landing page. This way, users won’t have to zoom in just to read the text or see the photos.

bbc food recipe

Using the same BBC example from above, check out their chic landing page for the recipe!


Lastly, use a URL tracker to see the effectiveness of your QR code usage. Some good trackers are http://goo.gl and http://bit.ly.

That should wrap up the pros and cons for QR codes. As an early adopter of technology, I think this is cooler than the frozen berries in my freezer.


Lawrence Chan

P.S. Here’s an innovative way Scandinavian Airlines is using QR codes.

P.P.S. While in New Orleans for two conferences – DWF and IUSA – Julie and I learned so much about the city’s history and culture.

A highlight from our trip was playing in the swamps and holding a baby alligator! Since they’re all in hibernation, our guide grabbed this tot from a cooler.

baby alligator


air boat