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Designer QR Codes; Ensuring the “beep”

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QR Codes are experiencing a continuing increase in use. On everything from pizzas to billboards, QR Codes can be found on all sorts of items and products. With increased use, the concept of designer QR Codes – QR Codes that have been graphically altered to make them more graphically appealing – has taken root. By using a percentage of the built in error correction capability, graphic designers are able to alter the structure of the QR Code while still allowing it to be scanned. The problem is that not all designer QR Codes are created equal. Due to a lack

of understanding of how QR Codes actually work, designers are confronted with advice, often online, that implies that anything from a slight color change up through the complete redesign of  the QR Code will work. Some sources say you can skew the symbol, some say you can’t. Others say that any image color will work. All of this “advice” leaves the designer with the question “what will work, what won’t work and how can I ensure that my target audience will be able to successfully scan my work?”


 This white paper has been developed to help address these very concerns. It will not try to address the various implementation issues such as including a call for action or the need for ensuring that any embedded URLs direct to mobile enabled sites. Instead the focus is on what sort of design modifications can be made while still ensuring the maximum number of people will be able to scan the symbol. The research, conducted by Ohio University’s AIDC Lab which is a part of the Russ College of  Engineering and Technology, investigated the read rate (the percentage of people who were able to scan a given code) of various types of designer QR Codes.

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