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Best QR Code Locations

Summary: QR codes perform better in some locations than others. Follow these steps to find the best performing locations for your QR-codes.


Effectively using a QR-code requires more than just typing a URL into a webpage form then slapping the QR-code on a sign or mail piece and forgetting about it.  A QR-code isn’t doing you much good if your prospect can’t scan it and doesn’t take action on it.   Here are some QR-code best location guidelines.

QR code billboard
The QR code on this billboard is likely to be scanned by mostly stationary people in the parking lot, but  not likely to be scanned by drivers on the highway.


Pre-test your QR Code Design

After using a QR-code generator to create your QR-code, scan your QR code directly from your computer screen (or scan a printed copy of your QR code) to confirm that the QR code performs the action that you want it to.  The QR-code should be 1″ square or more for your test.  Be sure to use a mobile scanner application for your mobile device that you have confirmed is to be working.  Remember, a QR-code containing a lot of data will have more dots (pixels) and may become more difficult to read.  If your QR-code contains a lot of data, consider using a URL shortener to make the QR-code less visually complex.  

Consider QR-code Media

It’s best to place the QR-code on a non-reflective surface because plastic frames and glossy packaging can reflect light making a QR-code difficult to scan.  By the way, UPS, FedEx and USPS also don’t like bar codes on glossy surfaces; they each request that you NOT place glossy cellophane tape over a barcode portion of any printed shipping label.

Consider the QR code Placement

Naturally, you’ll want to place QR-code in places where your prospects are already looking.  For example, QR-codes are ideally located very near products on a retail shelf and in prominent locations on signs, posters and printed materials.

  • A QR-code is best scanned “straight-on” at eye level.   A slight amount of angle is allowed when scanning, but mobile devices can not scan QR-codes that are placed at close, extreme angles.  For example, a QR code can be placed on a high billboard because the prospects are far from it, but a QR-code placed above a prospect’s head in a hallway would most likely be unscannable.
  • Avoid placing QR-codes in locations having poor lighting or in places where lighting can cast shadows
  • If your QR-codes requires an internet connection, avoid placing QR-codes where cellular signals are known to be poor, such as in subterranean locations and near hillsides. If you’re expecting public (unsecured) WiFi to be available, be sure that the wireless connection is strong in the QR-code location.
  • Consider traffic flow.  Be sure that the QR-code is located where a person can stop for two minutes or so to retrieve their phone, snap the QR-code, and review the results on their mobile device.   If you’re placing a QR-code in a hallway, be sure the prospect won’t be obstructing pedestrians.  It’s okay to place QR-codes on billboards that have a lot of pedestrian viewers — in a city or facing a parking lot, for example — but it’s not realistic to expect that a QR-code facing a busy highway will have many scans since most prospects are either driving or moving too quickly to scan the code.

Consider the QR code Size and Complexity.

QR-code size and complexity is one of the most common mistakes people make when implementing QR-codes.  It is so important, that I’ve written another article about it.

  1. If your QR-code is used to display a web page, use a URL shortener to make your QR-code less visually complex and more readable no matter where it is located.
  2. Near QR-codes: Never create a QR code less than .75″ square.  If you do create a small QR-code, see Rule #1
  3. Far QR-codes: When creating a QR-code that will be placed more than an arm’s length from the prospect — for example on a poster or billboard — do this:  Stand where your prospects are likely to stand.  Pull out your smart phone and activate your QR-code scan application.   The QR-code image should fill up 75% of the viewfinder on your QR-code app.  Can you successfully scan the QR-code?  If you can’t, they can’t.  Also, see Rule #1.

Consider moving your QR code

By using online URL redirection (URL shortner), you can add simple codes to each QR-code that will reveal which QR-codes are getting a lot of scans and which are only getting a few. Once you have this data, you can more easily determine the best places to locate your QR-codes in the best performing locations.

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