Tuesday, April 19, 2011

QR Codes in color?

A Mashable post about QR codes caught my attention this afternoon, "How to Make Your QR Codes More Beautiful."
"A thing of beauty or an eyesore? The magical barcodes that can be scanned by a smartphone to launch an offline-to-online experience are often criticized for their black and white checkerbox appearance. " -- Hamilton Chan
I have to admit, changing the color of a QR code was not something I considered. Adjusting the QR code size? Sure. Making everything around the QR code more visually appealing? Definitely.But actually changing the color or display, even branding it to match a LibGuide or presentation? The sanctity of the black and white code seemed generally untouchable. But now, the possibilities are interesting.

These are four renditions of a QR code generated for the LibGuide supporting our ACRL Cyber Zed Shed presentation, To the Cloud. The upper left code is a traditional black & white rendition. I copied the QR code image into Word to adjust color and display. First, I changed black to blue and left the white area intact. I also worked with color and picture style using "simple frame, white" and "bevel perspective." Results were certainly more visually appealing, but I was curious to learn if the code remained functional. So, I pulled out my phone and tested each with the bar code app.

The original QR code worked flawlessly, as did the first color change. It took more time for my reader to focus and scan the framed orange code, even longer for the beveled green code. In the end, all four codes directed my phone to the correct URL and successfully display the LibGuide. I like the visual appeal of the last two codes, but found having to adjust it in the app scan area took more time than may be warranted. Form or function? It will be interesting to see how QR codes may evolve.

Update: ALAO Conference 11/4/11

QR Codes were part of an ALAO conference presentation, Web Tools: The More Things Change. A QR Code and 2D Generator was featured, this site offers users opportunit to develop a QR code specifying a foreground and background color. Enter the hex code for a specific color or use the color picker provided.

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