QR Codes: What are they? How can I use them?

You may have noticed these funny little squares popping up on different company’s marketing and wondered … “what the heck are those?”.  The simple answer is they are QR Codes (Quick Response Codes) or 2D Codes.

Although these codes are just becoming visible on marketing pieces in the US, they are common in Japan where they got their start as a parts tracking code system for Toyota.


QR Codes are now used in a much broader context including both commercial tracking applications and convenience-oriented applications aimed at mobile phone users. 


They can display as text to the user, add a vCard contact to the users device, open a URL or compose an e-mail or text message.

QR Codes storing addresses and URLs may appear in magazines, on signs, buses, business cards or in just about any object which users might need information.

Users with a camera phone equipped with the correct reader application can scan the image of the QR Code to display text, contact information, connect to a wireless network or open a web page in the phone’s browser.


Here are a few ideas for how you can use QR Codes right away:

  • Use a QR Code in your Printed Brochure so that people can pull up your website instantly and read more about you.
  • Use a QR Code in your Posters or Tradeshow Booths to pull up your website or YouTube video.
  • Use a QR Code on your Website for Driving Directions so that users can scan the code for driving directions to your location.
  • Use a QR Code for a non-printed event ticket



The possibilities are endless.  Let your imagination go wild … try out a QR Code on your next marketing piece.


Leon O'Daniel

Leon is an award-winning developer with over 20 years experience designing and developing web sites and web applications for companies of all sizes, ranging from Fortune 500 companies to very small, one person companies. He has an extensive background in web application development, technical writing, database design and adult education.

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