This blog post is going to look at the uses of QR codes on websites, firstly what is a QR code? QR codes are small squares of smaller boxes that users can scan using their smart phones (iPhone, Blackberry and android for example), when they scan the QR code they are given some information – this can be anything from a URL (website link) to a phone number. QR codes work in much the same way as bar codes which are on the back of just about every product we buy.
In recent years the QR code has become increasingly popular as public awareness grows, at Simpsons Creative (a creative agency based in Bishop’s Stortford where i work) more and more of our clients are asking for them on business cards and on posters and other printed media. This is a trend that is being repeated across the country with QR codes popping up all over the place from Tesco on their fruit and veg stalls to 3 Mobiles window display.
But what about using QR codes on a website? with QR codes on printed media such as business cards the objective is clear to get people to visit your website but when they are already on your site what benefits will a QR code have?
Using a QR code on website print outs
The first use of QR codes on your website we will be looking at is using a QR code on any printed pages from your website. This means that when a user prints out a page from your website the website will automatically insert a QR code into the printed page. the benefits to the user is the fact that they can locate the page again quickly using their mobile phones or even a webcam using a laptop or desktop computer. This means that users can get back to the original source of a print out quickly and easily – without needing to type in a long URL, this would be ideal for students and others doing allot of research.
Another benefit of this QR code implementation is that if one person prints out an article they can share the source easily with others, taking a student at university as an example if one student or even the teacher locates a useful resource they can share it with their fellow students by letting them scan in the QR code.
Implementing this is as simple as inserting a QR code inside a div tag that has a class set up (lets call it .printonly) this class is then set to be hidden so that when users visit the website normally they do not see the QR code, however in the print style sheet of a website this class can then be set to visible so that the QR code only appears when users print out a page from the website.
A tip for WordPress users out there is that you can automatically generate QR codes for your posts using this bit of template code: http://www.wprecipes.com/how-to-automatically-generate-a-qr-code-for-your-posts
Using QR codes to let users share content
This use of QR codes links back to the first, letting users share content via a QR codes is another valid reason for implementing QR codes on a website, taking the student example again one student (or teacher) can share links to resources with their students by simply letting them scan a QR code. We could set a class in the same way as print but this time to only show QR codes when users are visiting the website on a mobile device – for example on a smart phone while in class. If one student locates the page with the QR code on they can then share it with the others quickly and easily without needing to know their phone numbers or email addresses (and without needing to let the person they are sharing with know any personal details).
Sharing content does not need to be between two different users, if a user starts reading your website article on a desktop computer or laptop they can scan the QR code and transfer over to their mobile device quickly and easily – if for example they wanted to continue reading on their phone on the way home from work or school.
Using QR codes to let users contact you
QR codes can link to more then just a URL, you can generate QR codes to contain text information such as email addresses or phone numbers. This means that you could insert a QR code into your website that when users scan it on a mobile device it would let users call you without needing to input a phone number, this will make it easier and faster for users to contact you which will mean they are more likely to do so.
Another possible use of this type of QR code is to link users through to your social media profiles on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn letting them keep updated with your websites social media – or even an RSS feed to keep update with blog posts and news.
This is going to be beneficial because smart phones are used for more then simply texts, phone calls and browsing the internet, users are managing their content from their smart phones – using it as a central resource or control point for all of their online activity. For example they manage their social media, shop, email, find information and keep up to date with news from anywhere with a mobile signal.
This means that when a user is at say work, school, library, shopping, on a night out or even on holiday they will have their smart phone with them connected to their digital world and will be able to add your website to their subscriptions without a second thought. They could do it by logging into their accounts on a computer but with growing awareness of security and the effects compromised computers can have it is less likely users will log into their accounts on ‘public’ computers meaning they wont follow your website!
With the above examples it is possible to see uses of QR codes on your website and with more and more users accessing the internet via smart phones the benefits of QR codes online is only going to increase! if you have any other ideas for uses of QR codes online please leave a comment below i would love to hear your ideas!
If you are interested in learning more about QR codes and implementing them on your website or on printed material contact me for more information or get in touch with Simpsons Creative a creative agency who can implement QR codes on any form of printed media and can even create QR codes that we can redirect after they have been printed! (perfect if you run seasonal offers)