Generating QR Codes

The world isn’t completely digital. We still meet people face-to-face, introducing ourselves and our companies to new people and opportunities. The workhorse of being remembered in these meetings is the venerable Clydesdale, the business card.

What leaves me wondering is why so few companies don’t make this humble carrier of information the powerful portal to the information-rich vehicle of their website. It’s more puzzling given the ease with which it can be done by including a QR code.

The QR code provides a direct link between the card and the web site.  Moreover, the QR code allows this useful tool to be both extended and tracked.

What goes into the QR Code? The first piece of information required is the URL of the web site and tracking code so that you can apply analytics to your cards as you would for other touch points. This allows you to separate business card generated visitors from other direct traffic.

You need not limit yourself here.  You may wish to track whose card or which department generates traffic. See my post on tradeshows and QR codes for a nicely integrated example implemented in trade shows.

There are four simple steps to creating the individualized QR codes:

  1. Build a URL string with custom parameters that you wish to track. You can do this with Google URL Builder.

Here you will create the specific QR code with URL, Campaign Source, Campaign Medium, Campaign Term, Campaign Content and Campaign Name.

Your URL needn’t be you website’s home page. Create an appropriate landing page for the purpose. Perhaps an employee biography or instant coupon may be a better starting point.

Keep in mind is that the QR code will be scanned by a mobile device. So the landing page for the QR code needs to be mobile friendly. This is yet another call to responsive design.

  1. Simplify the URL. The more information encoded in a QR code, the denser will be the dot pattern in the code. The denser the code, the more difficult it will be to scan. The more difficult it is to scan, the larger it will need to be printed. Again, Google provides a tool, but there are any number of URL shorteners available.
  2. Convert your shortened URL string to a QR code using a QR builder such as . As for incorporating your code into a business card design, QR codes needn’t be black and white and can include some decorative elements.

A readable QR code can be as small as .75 inches square with a good printing. But you will need to test your finished QR code in preflight before sending it to the printer.

  1. Download your new QR code and incorporate it tastefully into your card’s design.

That’s it.

Of course you may follow the same steps to add your QR code to brochures and direct mail pieces.

Video Website usability testing

While web analytics give great insight into the behavior of website users, they focus on “what” leaving the analyst to use intuition to form a “Why”. Video usability testing answers the the” Why”

This sample video user test is an abbriviated single user test. Most usability tests are 10 to 20 minutes long and answer a more specific set of questions. This test was used in an early iteration of the Synthesis:MCM website redisgn.