The Rise of the QR Code
The QR code was invented in 1994 by the Japanese corporation Denso Wave, a subsidiary of Toyota Motor Corporation, and were used as a quick way for them to track car parts during the assembly process.
Since that date the QR code has evolved into an indispensable tool used by businesses and people, in everyday life, in all sorts of ways, all over the world.
So what is a QR code?
Simply put, a QR code is a type of barcode, just like a supermarket barcode, except it is made up of squares rather than lines. It is a visual representation of information that can be scanned and translated by a device. When scanned on a standard smartphone, the device translates the code into letters or numbers.
QR, stands for ‘Quick Response’ because speed is the key. These letters and numbers most often form a URL which your smartphone will direct you to, giving you quick access to the information you need.
There are 2 types of QR codes, static and dynamic.
Static QR codes encode the information directly into the QR code. Let’s say for example you want to create a QR code that leads to google.co.uk, the QR code has ‘google.co.uk’ written in squares which your phone can read very quickly. When your phone reads the code, it sends you to google.co.uk. These types of QR codes are great if you have a small amount of information to code (like a URL) and you are confident that this information will always be the same, and your URL or link isn’t going to change at any point.
Dynamic QR codes use a ‘middle man’ to allow some flexibility for use in the future. Instead of the QR code reading as ‘google.co.uk’ it will instead read to a redirection URL, which is hosted by the generator website. Essentially, your phone will go to the generator website first, and then that will redirect you to your desired URL. This happens very quickly and usually isn’t noticeable when scanning on a smartphone. The experience is the same as scanning a static QR code, but the key here is that at any point you can go back to the generator website and change the URL without the need to create a new QR code.
QR codes can be found on packaging, billboards, business cards, almost all types of printed and digital literature, and are being used by businesses in a variety of ways, to guide the user to more information, offers, discounts, music, almost anything digital you can think of.
Why should I consider using a QR code?
QR codes do not have an expiration date. In terms of a tool that can be read and translated, your smartphone will always be able to read that information. However, there are a few factors to be aware of that can affect the longevity of a QR code.
If your QR code is static, you are relatively safe, as your smartphone will always read the code and direct you to the URL encoded into it. But, if the URL changes or is no longer in use, the QR code will redirect to an error. If you are linking to a well established URL, such as your own website home page or you are using it on a short run basis, such as a social media ad for example, then static QR codes are the way to go.
If your QR code is dynamic however, you are relying on the generator website that you are using as a middle man. Remember, your smartphone will scan the code and first go to their website, and then they redirect you to your chosen URL. There are many free generator websites, but because they are free to use, they may have a limit on the amount of scans they allow, or they may archive your link after a specific timeframe.
They might also run ads on your link. So in summary, if you want to create a QR code that links to a URL that may change at a future date, then a dynamic QR code may be the the option to choose, but consider the option of paying for the service to provide the security in the code and guarantee its longevity.
There are thousands of websites that offer dynamic QR code generation, they vary in the features the provide, such as file type available for download, performance tracking, customer support, customisation of appearance, to name a few.
If you would like to know more about how QR codes can work for your business, we’d love to chat with you.