Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Guest Column: QR Codes Can Be Beautiful?

Ryan Mitcheltree, Director of Sales and Business Development, Neu Concepts
Quick Response codes, or QR codes for short, are relatively new innovative two-dimensional matrix barcodes that can be scanned with smartphones and tablets, to connect the user to content on the web, activate email, connect to instant messaging and much more. These codes have the ability to take users online in seconds in order to check out a product, watch videos on that product, or connect with a company. So why have advertisers not gone crazy over these codes?

One of the reasons that QR codes have lagged in terms of adoption is simply because of their appearance. Numerous people criticize the black and white checkered appearance and believe that QR codes will never go mainstream because they simply are not a visually appealing design element.

I was also skeptical of the design. I used to think that QR codes were rather “clunky” and did not fit into beautifully designed materials until I saw an article on the Mashable blog that claimed QR codes could be beautiful.

In the article, “HOW TO: Make Your QR Codes More Beautiful,” Hamilton Chan explains that these codes can be manipulated to be more visually appealing. Chan explains that there are five easy steps that can be followed in order to make your QR code more appealing and marketable.

Here is a brief synopsis of the five steps Chan outlines:

#1. Add a Color Palette

QR codes do not have to be just black and white in order to be scanned. You can manipulate the colors of the QR code and still produce an image that can be scanned. The color of the code should be dark and set against a light background to increase contrast. With increased contrast, QR readers can interpret the data properly.

#2. Soften Hard Edges with Round Corners

All of the edges in the QR code do not need to be softened but it might be to your advantage to round some corners of the code. By lessening some of the harsh edges in the code you can help make the image more visually appealing.

#3. Incorporate Dimensionality for a 3-D Impact

You can place your logo, an image or characters in front of your code. By placing an image in front of the code you can give the code a sense of depth.

#4. Use QR Codes with 30% Error Correction

QR codes can be programed to allow for 7%, 15%, 25% and 30% error correction; meaning if you program it for 7% error correction the image can only have very little data missing but if you program the code for 30% error correction there can be more data missing from the image without affecting the scan.

#5. Apply a Trial-and-Error Process

If you try and fail, keep trying! Eventually, you will get a QR code that is both visually appealing and accessible through a scan.

QR codes do not have to be simple black and white checkered designs. With a little creativity and manipulation QR codes can turn into the next big marketing tool for your product or company.

Ryan Mitcheltree
Director of Sales and Business Development
Neu Concepts

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