QR Codes 3-3-9 (3 Do's, 3 Don'ts and 9 Suggestions)
This week, I'm pleased to present this piece by guest blogger Ken Kelsey, MAS from Kelsey Promo. Ken is a good friend and fellow inductee into the MiPPA Hall of Fame. He is a former member of the PPAI Board of Directors and former chairman of the association's Technology Committee. He also happens to be, in my opinion, one of the most knowledgeable QR Code users around. - Paul
QR CODES 3-3-9
(3 DO's, 3 DON'Ts & 9 SUGGESTIONS)
By Ken Kelsey, MAS
1. DO | create a Call to Action... give them a reason to scan your code, tell them what they'll get; view this video on YouTube (create a video about your product)... join our mailing list... find our nearest location... download this info article about... enter our drawing... like us on Facebook... follow us on Twitter.
2. DO | always Test, Test, Test... before publishing, test your code on all smartphones (Android, Blackberry, iPhone, Win7) with different readers. There are many popular code readers available. I personally use i-Nigma on my Android (go to www.i-nigma.mobi on your phone to download it free). I've heard that Qrafter for iPhone and iPad is good (iTunes store). When printing on a promo item, have the factory test the code after printing a few or get a pre-production sample to test the code yourself, this could save some problems later.
3. DO | use a URL Shortener... this helps to increase the number of scans. Use a service like bit.ly or their alternative j.mp (one character shorter). Another is goo.gl. Both offer tracking with their use. Or use your own URL shortener like I do, KPQR.US. I then customize for each customer such as KPQR.US/att, KPQR.US/teen.
1. DON'T | send them to your normal website... create a mobile-enabled version of the page you want them to see. 90-plus percent of scans come from a smartphone, make sure they can read your message.
2. DON'T | make the code too small... the smaller the code the fewer phones that can scan it... phones without auto focus will have a problem, try to keep the code size to a minimum of 3/4" square. The amount of data in the code affects scanability: the more data, the larger the code should be.
3. DON'T | reverse colors to a white code on black or other darker color, reversing colors will work with some smartphones but many code readers will not be able to render it. If you have to print a code on a dark color shirt, put down a white background square and print the black code on it.
Nine Best-Use Suggestions
1. Use error correction at the M lever (most code generators have this option). This means that even if up to 15 percent of the code is blocked or dirty, it can be corrected and still be read.
2. Save your codes as a SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics) if possible, which is a vectored image XML file. It can be increased or reduced without losing resolution and makes for a better printed code. You can also put colors into the code using Illustrator or CorelDraw. Try out different colors and test, test, test.
3. A good margin or white space is important to the proper rendering of a code. Most codes are 25 modules up and 25 modules across. I like to have at least three or four modules of white space. Do not print on black without having white space beyond the code itself around it.
4. Not every target has a smartphone... it's best to show the URL link the code renders to next to the code when you print. This helps increase your scan rate. About 50 percent of mobile phones in the USA are smartphones, make sure the other 50 percent can respond to your promotion by showing the URL link.
5. Show how to get a free reader. Print "get a free reader at your app store" near the code.
6. Some URL shortener services will let you change the destination link without changing the code. You could then use the same code and redirect it to a different YouTube video or offer each week.
7. Make sure you have color contrast... a dark and a light color... no less than 4:1 ratio (black/white is best). If there is not enough contrast, your code will be harder to read or not be read at all. Other colors can be used as long as you stick to the 4/1 ratio; brown/yellow or red/white would work.
8. Create your code so you can track how many scans it generated... using analytics to improve your project. Both bit.ly and goo.gl offer free analytics when you use their service to shorten an URL.
9. Finally, make sure any code you create for printing is not RGB. Even when printing black and white, it should be changed to a grayscale or CMYK so only the black plate is used when printing. This will help the resolution and make scanning easier by more smartphones. Saving a SVG code as a jpeg will work if it is the actual size it will print at, if it is saved as CMYK and if it is saved at a minimum of 300 dpi.
QR Code projects make good sense for any kind of business. You'll see more and more use of them for many years.
QR Code is registered trademark of DENSO WAVE INCORPORATED.