17 October 2012

We used a QR code a few years ago to test adoption within our target audience. The response rate was far too low to bother with it again, especially when short URLs provide a solution for everyone regardless of tech acumen. But the request resurfaced again in a committee that works with a younger segment that might be more familiar with the technology. To save the time refreshing next time, all of the basic steps are below.

Creating the QR Code

  1. Create 2 web addresses with tracking information
    1. The first short code (i.e., alias or redirect) is for non-QR users. Assuming you provide both options, it is important to track both for comparison. I went with GA tracking: utm_campaign=WHATEVER&utm_medium=print
    2. The second short code is for QR users. Although the QR code can include the full URL with analytics, using a separate alias provides the ability to change the redirect (and therefore the ultimate destination) of the QR codes after they are published. I went with GA tracking: utm_campaign=WHATEVER&utm_medium=qr
  2. Choose a QR code generator
    1. For any QR code generator, you want to use level=H when possible. The levels are L, M, Q and H, and they represent levels of redundancy that determine how well a QR code will work when the image is distorted or obscured. H has a 30% auto-correction capability.
    2. There are many good options for this. Some I considered were a linux CLI tooljQuery.qrcode, a basic free appsot app, and an advanced free application called Esponce. Update 2018-02-07: Web-based generator or Word field.
    3. Google Image Charts has a QrCode chart. You can generate it without learning the API. The primary downside to utilizing Google is that Image Charts are deprecated and will become unavailable at some point in the future.
  3. Create the QR code
    1. The text of the code should be the QR short code, starting with http://
    2. The level should be H
    3. For most web addresses, use UTF-8 encoding
    4. The size varies by usage, but bigger is better for print, and 500x500 is the best the Google generator will allow
    5. Save the QR code as a static image so that it continues to work after Google no longer offers the service
    6. Or save the web address (mine is here)

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