It’s interesting to note that most QR Code readers today – native or through apps are able to easily scan QR Codes that have any of these 6 issues present.
With the latest iOS 13 update, all iOS devices can scan wounded or bad quality QR Codes Smartphones running on Android 9 and above such as Pixel, Samsung S10+ can also scan these “unscannable” QR Codes.
But, if your target audience doesn’t have the latest smartphones, here is how you can fix those wounded codes:
6 reasons why your QR Code is not working + Troubleshooting tips
1. Quality of the QR Code
There is a good reason why quality always takes the front seat. When images are not of good quality, or in other words, distorted, it negates the entire purpose. Thus, quality is paramount.
Besides, a QR Code in a poor quality image format will not give the desired effect and retract its scanning ability.
A QR Code must always be printed with a clear and sharp display for better scannability and usability. For magazines and newspapers, the QR Code can be downloaded in JPG or PNG formats. For larger displays or billboards, use SVG or EPS formats, without compromising its quality.
While a pixelated or blurry QR Code might still scan on some devices such as iPhones (iOS 11 and higher) and the latest Android smartphones, it might fail on many others. Always test out the printed QR Code and replace it with a higher quality QR Code, if the process of scanning isn’t smooth.
Pro Tip: Download your QR Code in a high resolution, preferably in SVG or PNG formats for better quality QR Codes.
2. Inverting colors is a strict no-no
This is one of the most popular mistakes people make whilst creating a QR Code.
Don’t choose style and design over efficiency and productivity. The codes might look good, but they won’t work.
A classic QR Code has a white background and a black foreground. Inverting colors is literally swapping the color scheme, where the foreground is really light and the background is dark.
Plenty of marketers and QR Code experts strictly advise against using an inverted QR Code.
William Taylor, a Career Development Manager at VelvetJobs says,
“I’ve seen people creating QR codes with a black or dark background and a white or lighter foreground. It may look great in some design scenarios, but they can’t be scanned with all QR Code scanner apps. A lot of apps for scanning your QR Code expect the code to have a darker contrast to the background, so if you scan a code with a white foreground it will not work for everyone.”
Pro Tip: Always make sure to use a light color background and a dark color foreground.
3. Size of the QR Code
The biggest worry for all QR Code experts is the appropriate size of the QR Code, for it to be readable. The size is vital for the QR Code to function properly.
The minimum size of a QR Code should be,
Size of the QR Code = Distance/10 or, 2 x 2 inches
In June 2000, the QR Code size was standardized for international usage.
The symbol size of any logo used on the QR Code must be 21 x 21 – 177 x 177 modules (size grows by 4 modules/side) and the structured appending must be a maximum of 16 symbols (printed in a narrow area).
Apart from the scannability of the QR Code, the size also plays an important role in helping a customer locate it on the print media surface. Most users won’t notice if the QR Code is tiny and placed in a corner.
Real Juice has tiny QR Codes on food packaging that often go unnoticed.
Lastly, think about the mode of print advertisement. The size is always directly proportional to it.
Pro Tip: Gauge the location of the QR Code and then decide the size of it. For instance, if you are placing a QR Code on a business card, its size cannot be less than 2 x 2 inches.
If placing on a bigger surface, modify the size according to the formula above.
4. Be mindful of the contrast of the QR Code
In an attempt to match with a certain style’s theme and color, many of them change the color.
Do not get us wrong, it is a genius idea but it is wise to stick to a contrasting foreground and lighter background.
Changing colors is more than alright, but always do it right. Go for bold colors – sometimes they might not match the theme but it will stand out. If your colors match the contrast, it can get difficult for QR Code readers to scan the QR Code easily in all light conditions.
he has witnessed a wounded QR Code not working well many times. ManyQR Code scanners cannot scan QR Codes with a lot of color schemes. The QR Code must look sharp on different screens and in print format.
Ergo, by rule of thumb, keep the foreground40% darker than the background while creating a QR Code.
Apart from this, dull colors with no contrast displayed on a billboard or a window might go unnoticed. This negates the purpose of using a QR Code.
Pro Tip: Keep the foreground 40% darker than the background even while using contrasting colors.
The placement of a QR Code is more often than not, overlooked.
Placing the QR Code in the right location will garner a high conversion rate.
Place it in the wrong location and no one will even notice it like the one that was placed on the walls of the New York subway.
So, why exactly must one pay attention to the placement?
According to several QR Code experts and marketers, it is all about the speed of scanning and location of the QR Code. Overall, it shouldn’t take less than a couple of seconds to scan a QR Code successfully.
Make sure the code is at eye-level. If the QR Code is too low or within 20 inches from the ground, no one will notice it. Even if they do, no one is going to scan it.
Always make sure that the QR Code is large enough to not just be noticeable, but also be able to scan without any errors.
Pro Tip: If you are using QR Codes on smaller areas such as business cards, brochures or flyers, make sure you place them front and center. When placing QR Codes on bigger displays like billboards, make sure they are at eye-level so that users can scan them easily.
Overcrowding the QR Code with too much content ruins its entire purpose.
Look at the QR Codes above. The one on the left is neat and crisp, which means it can be scanned faster. The one on the right appears busy and crowded. This simply means that the one with more pixels carries more content and it takes longer to scan.
Having too much content can cause multiple problems in various circumstances. For instance, adding a lot of content can reduce the size of the quiet space and the corners. A lot of scanners are dependent on those corners, and thus they may not be able to function properly.
Pro tip: Use a dynamic QR Code instead of a static QR Code if you want to include content like a PDF or Terms and Conditions, or even various offers and discounts.
3 other QR Code scanning problems + Tips to fix them
Now, if most of your customers use the latest smartphone, the above issues will not be a problem.
But, let’s say your QR Code is still not working.
Here are 3 possible reasons why and how you can troubleshoot these wounded codes:
1. Expired QR Code
Using a poor-quality free QR Code generator can lead to expired QR Codes without you knowing or receiving any intimation. Some generators also have a cap on the number of scans that can render your QR Code unscannable after it hits the limit.
Pro Tip: Always test your QR Code periodically to make sure it is working and use a high-quality free QR Code generator like Beaconstac that allows you to create Static QR Codes that have unlimited scans and is free forever.
2. Broken link
A broken link usually implies that a website has been linked that no longer exists or, maybe a mistyped URL.
A broken link is not just a technical problem, but it also ends up leaving a bitter experience for the users to come back.
You may find several kinds of automated messages in case of a broken link – HTTP error codes, 410 gone, 404 not found, 500 internal server error, and 503 service unavailable.
Pro Tip: Always keep an eye out to the working functionality of the webpage and update it regularly using a dynamic QR Code.
3. Over customization of the QR Code
Customization adds a personalized touch to any element, including QR Codes. Although customization is required to make your brand stand out, serve the purpose of the campaign, and increase the ROI, over customizing a QR Code is never recommended.
Simple customization includes adding a logo, changing the colors of the QR Code, and adding an image.
Over customization implies that the QR Code is beyond unrecognizable perhaps by adding an over-the-top background image, changing the data pattern extensively, using colors of the same spectrum or, even adding a long and unreadable URL.
Pro Tip: Do not add elements to the QR Code which you may deem as unnecessary. If you do want to add a lot of elements, use dynamic QR Codes instead and include all the details directed to a dedicated landing webpage.
Test the QR Code
Before printing the QR Code on the final outlet, always test it.