If you read Will's article about the QR Reader Chrome extension, you may have noticed his customised QR code. Here's our complete guide to creating a personalised QR code for yourself, or a brand.
QR codes, or quick response codes, were created to enable people to quickly access a variety of information, from contact cards to URLs. The codes are much like barcodes, their one dimensional predecessor, but can store much more information. Because of this, they are much more useful for brands - and you!
Method 1, simple but lower quality:
Here is what Will had to say about his method, the simpler of our two:
My favourite method is to use Moji-Q. The site is in Japanese, but it’s not too hard to figure out what to do, especially if you have Google Chrome with Translate built in. There are many options to customising your QR code with Moji-Q which other free services do not offer, such as colours, spacing, reflections and positioning of text.
You can enter in up to 4 lines of text to be displayed on the QR pattern. However, be warned; too much text will destroy the readability of the QR code and the site gives you no warning; so always test the code works by using the QR Reader extension for Chromeor by scanning them with your phone.
Another benefit of Moji-Q’s QR generator is the ability to store different types of information. While the most obvious of which is a URL of a website, QR codes can store much more such as contact information, passages of text and messages. Moji-Q allows users to specifically select which type of information they are trying to embed into the code for optimum readability.
The only downside to Moji-Q 2.0 is the lack of a High Resolution QR download, so they're not the best for off screen viewing (i.e. they don't look great if printed in a large size).
Method 2, highest quality but manual:
My favourite method requires quite a lot of work on your part, but can create amazing results.
First of all, you need to grab the raw QR code you want to customise. I recommend you use the ZXing Generator for the highest quality images. You can make a code for a contact card, calendar event, email address, geo location, phone number, SMS, text, URL or Wi-Fi network details. Remember to select 'H' in the quality setting box for the best results.
Once you have created your QR code, save the image to your computer. Then all you have to do is edit it which is nowhere near as hard as you'd think!
Don't worry, you don't need thousands of pounds - or dollars - worth of software to customise your QR code. To prove this point, I used Microsoft PowerPoint to create my code.
There are three main things to remember when editing your QR code:
1. QR code scanners can pick out information even with up to 30% distortion, so you should only edit up to 30% of the image
2. Scanners detect codes in black and white so think if your colours could be mistaken for the code, or background
3. Always try out your code as you go, just to make sure it's still readable
Here is what I did in PowerPoint:
- Downloaded and installed a pixelated font
- Downloaded the Twitter logo and pixelated it using this web application
- Made the white of the image transparent
- Inserted a white background
- Covered a section of the picture with a white autoshape
- Inserted a text box with the desired text and change the font to the downloaded one
- Inserted the edited Twitter logo
- Added shadow to all the inserted items apart from the background
- Edited contrast and brightness of the image
- Grouped all content
- Right-clicked to save as an image
Done! You may think that is a lot of work for a QR code, but when you think about what they can do for you and your brand, you may decide the time is worth it. By designing your QR code you instantly make your brand seem more professional and innovative. I think QR code design is so effective I have built my website with just one QR code - do you think it works?
One use for QR codes is in business cards. Instead of carrying around a stack of cards use your phone and let people scan it. You can use your personalised QR code to link to a professional profile such as your Twitter or Zerply. Alternatively, you could have your custom QR code printed on your business card. This certainly makes adding contact information to your phone quicker.
For some inspiration to get you started, have a look at our article showcasing innovative examples of QR codes and QR code design.