QR codes let people access information with a smartphone; instead of typing a URL, you point your smartphone camera at a QR barcode and tap to scan. The QR code offers a link to all sorts of information and actions, including web pages, presentations, Wi-Fi access codes, business cards and information (hours, locations) and social media sites.
There are two different types of QR codes: Ones that link to one set location on the web (known as a static QR code) and one’s that send customers to an updatable web location (known as a dynamic QR code). On an iPhone, Apple’s camera app includes QR code scan support. On an Android device, both Google Assistant — with the words “scan QR code” — and the Google Camera app, with Google Lens mode, let you point your camera at a QR code then tap to scan and search.
The use of QR codes for marketing and to access online menus, especially, proliferated during COVID-19 efforts to minimize physical contact points. Many sales systems, such as Addmi, OpenTable, Shopify and Square, let business owners generate multiple QR codes for customers.
You don’t need a point of sales system to create QR codes. The following five methods offer reliable ways to create QR codes to provide contactless access and marketing to web pages and other information.
SEE: Top 5 tips for QR code safety (TechRepublic)
How to create QR codes with Chrome
Google’s Chrome browser includes a free QR code generator for web pages (Figure A).
The free QR generator feature is built into the Share system in Chrome on both Android and iOS, and is also available in every desktop version of Chrome.
Note: Different versions of Chrome provide different QR code displays. Currently, Chrome on Android and desktop versions display the QR code with a dinosaur in the middle, while Chrome on iOS provides a standard QR code that lacks the dinosaur logo.
In Chrome on Android, browse as usual to a web page, tap the three-dot menu | Share… | QR Code, then optionally tap Download to save the code to your system for later use (Figure B).
In Chrome on iOS, similarly browse as normal to a web page, tap the Share symbol, then scroll down a bit in the displayed options and tap Create A QR Code (Figure C). On iOS, you’ll need to then tap Share | Save Image (or, alternatively, Save To Files) to preserve the code to scan and use later.
Right-click (or tap with two fingers on a touchpad) to display the Create QR Code option in desktop-class versions of Chrome. The generated QR code displays in the upper-right area the browser. You may then scan the image or select the Download button to save it (Figure D).
How to create QR codes with QRbot
QRbot lets you create codes that link to a web page, as well as codes that encourage other actions, such as adding a contact, connecting to Wi-Fi, sending an email or SMS or making a call (Figure E). Go to the QRbot QR Generator, select an action, add any necessary details, then download your custom QR code. The web-based version is free. The developer, TeaCapps, offers free Android and iOS apps on their app stores, as well as upgraded pro options for both platforms (for $4.99 and $5.99, respectively) that remove ads and provide access to extra features. Additionally, the upgrade on iOS lets you change the QR code design, giving users the ability to adjust colors, add a custom logo and select from more themes.
How to create QR codes with Barcode Generator
In addition to the methods above, people who use Windows also might consider installing the free Barcode Generator app by Vevy Europe—S.P.A. from the Microsoft Store. As with Chrome and QRbot, the QR Barcode Generator provides several pre-built action options to create QR codes for email, Twitter, Facebook, SMS, Wi-Fi, Flickr and YouTube, among others (Figure F). Select an action, enter your data, then save the generated image.
How to create QR codes with iQR codes
On macOS, iQR codes – QR Code Art Studio provides fast, fill-in-the-blank creation of QR codes for phone numbers, SMS, email, locations, web links, contact info, calendar events, Wi-Fi access and more (Figure G). This $14.99 app also lets you make more adjustments to the display of the QR code than any of the above options. These tweaks include pixel styles, corner and resolution sliders, foreground and background colors, as well as customizations of the corner control points. The app also provides a built-in tool that assesses the readability of your QR code along with tips to help ensure reliability when your potential customers use their QR code readers.
How to access QR codes in social media apps
If you consistently post on social media sites, a QR code can make it easy for people to access your social media accounts. While you can create a QR code that links to a public web page for any of your social media accounts with the above apps, some social media services build access to QR codes right into their apps. For example, LinkedIn and Twitter both provide QR codes within their iOS and Android apps, respectively (Figure H). You might post this QR code along with the site’s logo on signage.
How do you use QR codes?
Do you use QR codes at your organization? If so, what types of information do you link to for your customers (menus, social media marketing, Wi-Fi sign-in)? What systems or apps do you use to create QR codes? Let me know how you use QR codes, either in the comments below or on Twitter (@awolber).