How to make and use QR barcodes (and why)

New to QR? New to barcodes in general? While everyone's needs and goals differ, here are some things about using QR barcodes you may want to think about. Using QR symbols to drive mobile traffic is new, at least in the U.S. As the mobile web continues to escalate, no one can afford to learn lessons the hard way.

Think of QR symbols as phone macros. They initiate an action on your phone (text is displayed, music is played, a map appears, video launches, you land on a web page, etc.) Scan a specific checkerboard pattern and a smartphone will react in a specific way.

Why are you using QR? What are your goals and objectives? How does using a QR barcode fit in? What will they do for you? As we say at Azalea Software, "If you can't write it down, you probably can't pull it off." Be clear so you can implement with focus. Be clear so you can measure against your goals and objectives before, during, and after. Be clear so you can sell it to your boss/client/partners.

QR symbols are scanned with cell phones. They need to deliver a mobile experience. Phones have limitations but smartphones are the device du jour (and tomorrow). A phone is always online, has a rich browser, is location aware, can deliver video and audio, is used to share information with others, the list goes on. And QR barcodes can trigger these actions.

Always collect metrics. The only way to know if you've reached your goals, stayed within your budget, and had an impact on the world is to measure against your goals and objectives. You've defined them, you've implemented coherently with them, so build in data collection and analytics so you can quantify your efforts. If you're selling something, can you track transactions driven by QR? You do this for other projects, online and otherwise, so do it for your QR projects too. If nothing else, it will shorten your learning curve and arm you with personal experience moving forward with future efforts.

QR is not a fad. Take QR barcodes seriously. They are well established in Japan as well as Europe. Americans are late to the party. That doesn't mean folks haven't been having fun without us. They have. Plan well but don't implement half-heartedly. Be creative but never forget to educate your audience until QR becomes mainstream. You may well be someone's first encounter with QR and the mobile web. Make a good first impression. It helps all of us.

Start small but always think big. Test with kids; adults can be Luddites. Put magic in my hand when I scan your QR.

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