If you sell or promote anything, you NEED this. Need what? A QR code.
We all know what a barcode is. It’s a graphic symbol that a scanner can read to connect to computerized information. The same concept is utilized by something called a QR code. Wikipedia explains “QR code (abbreviated from Quick Response Code) is the trademark for a type of matrix barcode (or two-dimensional barcode) .. QR codes have become common in consumer advertising. Typically, a smartphone is used as a QR code scanner, displaying the code and converting it to some useful form (such as a standard URL for a website, thereby obviating the need for a user to type it into a web browser).” Huh?
For my Master Gardener’s sign, I went to the free site QR stuff, http://www.qrstuff.com and simply followed their instructions to key in the Facebook page URL for the Calaveras County Master Gardeners. On a Mac, you get a download of your QR code image as soon as you hit enter on the URL. I nabbed my iPhone, scanned the image on their site and lo and behold my Facebook page came up (really, there’s a little bit of a thrill when you check to see if it works and it does). Once I’d proven to myself it would land on the right site, I pasted the image to my sign, printed it, laminated and I’m set to go. Folks at our plant sales and garden talks can simply hold up their smartphone, like our page and be therefore keyed in to our coming events. Although I really want to play with creating the visual QR code, for the master gardeners sign I chose something more recognizable as a barcode as the technology has not yet been widely utilized in my area. When I update the sign, I’ll choose their link for Facebook that will give me a more visual Facebook image.
As I’m not one of the multitudes with a shopping app, for the iPhone I downloaded the free AT&T code scanner. Options for free android device QR readers are also available from Google, AT&T or more.
You only get three visual QRs for free (oops). Hadn’t realized that when I started playing with just slapping one together for this post. You can upload your own picture or image; choose one of theirs; size the QR code in relation to the image; choose dots, squares or stars for the QR code itself; and generally play and manipulate to your heart’s content. They’re also more than happy to sell you programs with more features including tracking and data for those of you with a need to know details.
The uses for the code are only limited by your creativity. Why make someone key in a long URL from a business card when they can quickly hold their phone or tablet over it and land on your blog, shop or website? You can see from the column on the left of QR Stuff that you can get code images for phone numbers, digital business cards, email addresses and so much more. This morning I was encouraging someone to make a sign with a link to her Kindle e-book. This way she could sell her self-published books as well as less her expensive e-books when out and about.
In the comments, folks have shared Scanova and Visualead QR code generators. Both offer free samples for generating visual codes.
So, off you go. Create something fun and be sure to link us to your creation in the comments below. UPDATE: Here’s something fun – personalized QR Code cufflinks for the Geek in your life – at Etsy. I’d love to see what you concoct!