When it comes to QR codes, which are all the rage lately, you have to consider people who don’t have QR code scanners, which is the majority of smartphone owners. They’re catchy and instantly recognizable, but no phone ships with a default reader just yet, though there are many available. Thus, in order to make QR codes more usable for everyone else, you can overlay text on top of them, if you have decent generator software. The catch is making sure you leverage the built-in error correction in order to have something that will still scan, even with text placed on top.
Here’s an example of a code with 7% error correction:
Note that nothing happens. The average code scanner won’t even detect it. Increase the error correction to 30% and you’ll get a more complex looking code, but it’s durable and will let you scan it while still providing information to people who don’t have a scanner.
This is how you use QR codes in a way that works for everyone, not just the early adopters.
One important side note: a QR code gets more complex and less durable with every bit of information you put in it. Do your level best to keep the amount of data that goes into it to a bare minimum, such as a shortened URL, so that there’s less complexity in the image itself.
For example, here’s ChristopherSPenn.com:
Notice how dense it is?
There’s considerably less information in the latter, which means that the code is more durable and can be scanned more quickly and more easily. Use shortened URLs as much as possible!
My recommended source for high error-correction QR codes is the free RACO Industries generator:
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