You can get QR code scanning apps for all major browsers,  including  iphones/ipads,  Blackberry and Android – they are free to add and download quickly, to any phone with a camera that can be used as a scanner.  All are very easy to use, just pop it open and away you go.  There are lots of different scanners on the market, the links in the previous sentence go to ones that have received high reliability ratings from users, but if you don’t get on with them there are others you can try for every platform.

Designer QR code promoting HBO's True Blood series

If you want to create QR scans to use in your own media, we recommend Keremerkan – this is what we used to create the QR code for the Costa Blanca News article, which may well have brought you to this page.  It is very quick and easy to get started with, and free to use, although donations are requested to the developer.

There are a few important principles to bear in mind when creating QR codes, if you want a successful and happy outcome.

Firstly, codes are going to be read by a mobile device… so if you want to add value for your clients/readers, it’s essential that the URL the code resolves to is fully accessible on a mobile browser.  It’s amazing how many people make this mistake, and obviously its a huge turn-off if people bother to scan through and then can’t get the promised extra info.

Secondly, the QR code itself encodes the URL put into the generator, and the shorter the URL it has to encode the greater accuracy can be achieved.  This is important, because you cannot control the circumstances (angles, ambient lighting, device used, etc) present when people scan the code, so you want to make the chance of a successful scan first time as great as possible.  If you want to point the QR code to a specific URL deep within your site, consider shortening it first using something like or tinyurl, for better results.  These make funny looking little URLs full of numbers that you wouldn’t necessarily want to print as they don’t relate to your branding at all, but remember it’s all going to be encoded in the square so it really doesn’t matter.

Third, print your code at a minimum of 2cm square, for print that is going to be read close up (for example a magazine or leaflet), that you can get your phone within a few centimeters of to scan.  You want to scale up accordingly if printing a QR code on the side of a box, or a building – think about filling the scanning window on the app for best results, and experiment yourself.

Finally, although you can do a lot to make your codes colourful, branded and attractive these days, remember functionality rules.  The bottom line is, if it doesn’t scan (first time) it’s more likely to alienate your prospects than excite them.  Simple black and white is always going to be easiest to resolve, and there are bits of the code you just don’t want to mess with whilst other parts you can potentially tweak using a graphics package, so you can insert your logo, or use your corporate colours, and so on.  Just be careful, bearing in mind everything mentioned above, and keep checking – tweak, then scan (with as many different apps/platforms as you can to test), then tweak a wee bit more, and so on.

There’s a great article here, which summarises which bits of the code you can play with and what not to touch, as well as showing some creative uses of QR codes incorporating images etc.

If you are using QR codes to promote your business, please tell us about it in the comments section below!

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  • Raphael Morais

    How do I copyright articles and newsletters that I am wanting to publish?

    • admin

      I would just state your copyright at the foot of the article for creative commons protection – state that your work can only be reproduced with full attribution