Designer QR Codes & How to Use Them

Designer QR Codes & How to Use Them

Since opening shop as The Deep End, my first order of business was new business cards.  I knew that this time around I wanted to employ the use of a Quick Response (QR) code.

QR codes are a huge trend in internet marketing. While they are similar to traditional barcodes used by retailers for decades, this new version can hold much more information. When you scan (photograph) one of these codes with your iPhone or smartphone, it automatically links to a website, or activates a phone function, such as calling or text messaging.

How to use them

This is the best part. Its incredibly simple to generate and implement QR codes. There are many sites out there, such as,  that specialize in generating them. You simply choose the type of data you want the code to call up, input the data, and you’re done. You can then use the code on just about any medium you can think of. Business cards, websites, print ads, even t-shirts.


In the case of my new business cards, I could generate a QR code to do any number of things. I could make a code that would automatically open up my website. Or one that would generate a Facebook “like” or Twitter follow. While these actions could be great in the right scenario, I opted for something more old-fashioned—contact info. This way, when a client takes a photo of the code, all my contact info, complete with company name, phone number, email address as well as web address automatically shows up on their smartphone, with the option to save it. I love this idea, because it fulfills the objective of the business card in a big way. The person I give my card to now has my contact info, even if they lose the card.

Square doesn’t have to equal boring

While traditionally black and white, some companies have been playing with incorporating their QR codes into their design. I played with mine a bit to add some white space in the center, along with my squid mascot. There seems to be a margin for wiggle-room with QR codes. They can be played with up to a point without any information being lost. But if you change it too much, it won’t be readable at all. So play around, but test your designs to reach the sweet spot.

Here are some more great creative examples of QR codes:

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(3) responses

Nathan Simpson

August 12, 2012

Damn, I only ordered some business cards a few days ago, I should have thrown in a QR code.



September 26, 2012

Wes, I saw your deep end mascot QR code on dribbble and dug it – a few days before listening to this episode. Aesthetically the QR is so ugly – I’m really happy to see examples of creative implementation of them.

BTW – I found your podcast via a “graphic design podcast” search on google on Monday and have been cranking through your back episodes. Really quality content, good insights, and it is always nice to hear “shop” talk.

Keep up the good work!


Wes McDowell

September 26, 2012

Hey thanks TJ! Glad you found the podcast, and I agree with you about QR codes… they can be ugly on their own, but the fact that you can change them somewhat can really make them interesting. And if you can come up with a good use for using one then go for it!


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