The recent production by Cirque du Soleil of ‘Love’, a tribute to the music of The Beatles, features an iTunes app that is accompanied by a QR code for the 5th anniversary of the production. The user could unlock extra content within the app that includes music, video and still images of the show. The QR code also allows the user to enter a competition to win DVDs and music. Overall, the use of QR codes in publication and publicity has assisted in the expansion of multimedia and cross-platform content. The logical extension of the use of QR codes is as an added dimension to print publications, particularly in relation to subjects dealing with digital and multimedia production. In any use of QR codes there are three rules to observe:
1) Mobilize the landing page: the site the QR decodes to should be active and even live, with regular updates and a community aspect to it. If the QR Code you have made resolves to a url make sure the page is optimized for display on a mobile device. An easy way round this issue it to make sure the landing page is equipped with agent switching. If the site is not under your control then you can use Google’s mobilizer by adding the url to this string: http://www.google.com/gwt/n?u= If you are mobilizing your own site such as your blog then there is an even better option which will mobilize your site, generate a QR Code for the mobilized url and keep usage statistics, it’s called Delivr. Another possibility to consider is Mippin, which has an option to include advertising but you must have an RSS feed for it to work. Whatever you end up doing make sure the user of your QR Code sees content optimized for mobile devices because 99.9% of the time they will be using a camera phone.
2) The second rule of QR Codes is to make sure the url is as short as possible. Many mobile devices and reader software have difficulty with a QR Code matrix greater than 33×33 and some even falter with those dimensions. This means you should aim for a small matrix rather than a large matrix. In QR Code encoding the number of bytes at a given Error Correction Level (ECL) will determine the matrix size (see chart below) therefore a shorter url can mean a dimensionally smaller matrix. Dependence upon a third-party to decode and direct traffic is dangerous. The content, decoding and url/server provision should be handled by the publisher under contract or within the domain of the publication itself.