What is a QR code? How do you generate QR codes yourself?

QR code, short for Quick Response Code, is a kind of matrix barcode that includes information about a product or service. You can find it being used for advertising purposes, where brands put up custom QR codes on their products to market them. As a matter of fact, these days, QR codes are not only being used by the advertising industry but by other industries and individuals as well.

QR Code
IMAGE: Unsplash (Markus Winkler)

One of the significant reasons behind such widespread adoption of QR codes nowadays has to do with the kind of convenience they facilitate. In fact, this convenience, coupled with quick access, is what enables users to fit more information into a tiny screen/canvas. So the obvious question that pops-up then is what exactly is a QR code, and how can you generate a QR code yourself? Here’s a guide with answers to these and a few other related queries.

What is a QR code?

A QR (Quick Response) code is a kind of matrix code that possesses the ability to hold information about a product or service. It consists of three square structures in its corners and can include up to 2953 binary characters.

Talking about its structure, a QR code features a combination of black cells arranged in a square grid on a white background. This layout is in stark contrast to matrix codes that are made of black and white cells and do not have designated square structures in the corners, and barcodes, which are one-dimensional and can hold limited characters.

QR code structure

In general, QR codes can be classified into two categories: static and dynamic. Static QR codes are those that can contain a fixed set of information and cannot be changed once created. On the other hand, dynamic QR codes possess the ability to be edited at any time, even after their creation. These codes also provide the option to track data like total scans, location of scans, average scans per day, device type, and a lot more.

When stacked against each other, dynamic QR codes come out on top as a more preferred choice for most businesses and individuals. This is because they can be tracked, edited, and customized to meet one’s requirements, unlike their static counterparts.

QR code applications
IMAGE: Unsplash (Toa Heftiba)

Some of the common applications of QR codes include serving download links for apps, giving navigation guides for destinations, collecting customer reviews, taking polls, capturing contact details using a landing page, sharing business cards, and more — the use-cases are endless.

How do QR codes work?

Generally speaking, a QR code involves two steps: creation (or generation) and reading, to work. First, the creator needs to generate a QR code with the information they intend to convey through it and attach it to the relevant product or service. After this, the reader, who wants to read information from the QR code, is required to use a QR code reader to retrieve information from the QR code. A QR code reader is available as a built-in utility on some smartphones. In case it isn’t, on your device, you can download a third-party QR code reader app from your smartphone’s app store.

QR code working
IMAGE: Unsplash (David Dvořáček)

In a nutshell, a QR code works pretty much similar to a traditional barcode, where the creator encodes some information into a code and the reader reads it using their smartphone to obtain the information in a human-readable format.

How to generate a QR code?

Depending on what kind of QR code — static or dynamic — you want to create, there are different tools (apps and services) to help you achieve the same. But at large, there are two approaches to generating a QR code: using an app/service or using code.

Since most users would want a quick and easy way to generate a QR code, the former approach should work just fine for an ideal use case. However, if you want more control over what information goes in your QR code and need more customizability, you can code your own QR code. For the purpose of this article, we will stick to third-party apps and services to generate QR codes. But if you wish to create your own, you can check out this tutorial to generate a QR code with Python.

Best Websites to Generate QR Codes

1. Visualead

Visualead is one of the popular QR code generation solutions out there. It is available as a web app and is pretty easy to use. To get started, all you need to do is select the QR code type from the available options, i.e., what you want the QR code to do for you and pick an action. The action can either be a destination URL or a landing page. Once that’s done, you can then choose a template design or upload your own image to generate the design. If you are creating dynamic QR codes, Visualead provides you the ability to edit them and make changes at a later time. Your QR should now be ready. And you can choose to either print it or share it.

QR Code Generator — Visualead

What’s more, Visualead also allows you to track and manage the performance of your QR codes. So you can manage your advertising campaigns and learn about your audience right on the app.

Plans: Free, Paid
Get Visualead

2. QRStuff

QRStuff is another popular QR code generator service on the web. Unlike Visualead, which restricts code generations to only three codes per month with its free plan, QRStuff, on the other hand, does not have such restrictions. So you can use it for free and get done with basic QR code generation. And in case you need advanced features (tracking and analytics), you can always get a subscription.

QR Code Generator — QRStuff

Talking about usability, QRStuff has a very basic set of steps that you need to follow to create a QR code. First, you need to select the data type and the content that you want to encode on the code. And once that’s done, you can then move on to select the size and resolution for your code, along with the color, error correction percentage, and even the output file type. Alternatively, you can choose a QR code template to avoid the hassle of managing these settings manually and generate a QR code quickly.

Plans: Free, Paid
Get QRStuff

3. QRCode Monkey

QRCode Monkey is an absolutely free QR code generator that does not cost you a penny while being functional and useful at the same time. You can use it to generate a QR code with a bunch of different input data types and even get to customize its appearance using settings for the size, color, and shape. If you are a brand, you even have an option to add your brand logo to your QR code for a personalized touch.

QR Code Generator — QRCode Monkey

In terms of usability, QRCode Monkey is pretty straightforward to use. You can get started with it right away and have a functional QR code in minutes. However, that said, if you need to keep track of your QR code, you need to use QRCode Studio, which starts at €5 per month. What’s more, the service also has a Chrome extension that you can add to your browser and generate QR codes even quicker. And for those interested, QRCode Monkey has the QRCode Monkey API, which can be used to create custom QR codes.

Plan: Free
Get QRCode Monkey

4. QR Code Generator

QR Code Generator is yet another free QR code generator that offers most of the essential features and functionalities you need to create a QR code. That said, the editor at offer here is barebones and not as advanced as some of the other tools in the list. But that said, it does get your job done quite effectively. As for tracking features and in-depth information on users, QR Code Generator requires you to upgrade to a paid plan.

QR Code Generator

Talking about creating QR codes, you can generate one in just a few steps. Like most other services, QR Code Generator also requires you to, first, select a data type from a list of different options, after which, you can customize its appearance by tinkering around with the frame type, shape, and color. Moreover, you even get to upload your logo to personalize your QR codes. Interestingly, QR Code Generator provides you the option to download your generated QR codes into vector formats as well — something that is not available on a lot of QR generators.

Plans: Free, Paid
Get QR Code Generator

5. Beaconstanc QR Code Generator

Beaconstanc QR Code Generator is a professional solution for all your QR code generation needs. It offers a slew of features compared to the other QR code creation tools on the list. And therefore, it is largely a paid service. The free access only gets you a few data type options and restricts customizability functionalities to a handful. However, once you upgrade to a paid plan, Beaconstanc is the best one of the lot by a margin.

Beaconstanc QR Code Generator

In terms of functionality, you do get to create QR codes with the free plan, but your options are limited to only static QR codes. And so are the design and customization options, each of which only offers access to a single option — be it frames, themes, or even templates. Moreover, download options are also limited to PNG format only. And in the same vein, even though the service offers API access, you get restricted access to all of its functionalities with the free plan.

Plans: Free (14-day trial), Paid
Get Beaconstanc QR Code Generator

6. Scanova

Scanova is our last recommendation for an online QR code generator tool. It is available in both free and paid plans, with the free plan offering access to a set of limited features. Although having said that, the basic functionality you get with Scanova does get the job done for most users — especially if you want a basic QR code and do not need customization options.

QR Code Generator — Scanova

Moving to QR code generation, the editor is pretty clean and easy to use. So you can have a basic QR code ready with just a few clicks. To simplify things even further, there are preset QR templates as well that you can select to display your preferred data type based on your requirements and quickly create your codes. What’s more, the paid plans come with access to a few different tools such as QR Batch, QR API, and QR SDK, which you can use to generate QR codes in large numbers.

Plans: Free, Paid

Get Scanova

Best Mobile Apps to Generate QR Codes

If you prefer a native app instead of a web app, here are some of the best QR code generator apps for both Android and iOS.

1. My QRCode Generator

My QRCode Generator is an iOS-only QR code generation app. It has a neat interface and is easy to get started. You can use the app to create QR codes on your iPhone with a host of data types. Customization functionality is also provided in the app, and you even get to change different aspects of your QR code to suit your preference. Alternatively, to make things simpler, My QRCode Generator also features templates, which you can utilize to create your QR codes in just a few clicks. Lastly, there is a built-in code scanner in the app to help you scan codes on the go.

QR Code Generator app — My QRCode Generator

Pricing: Free, Paid
Download My QRCode Generator

2. Qrafter

Qrafter is another iOS-exclusive QR code reader and generator app. You can use it to read barcodes and QR codes and even generate them by embedding different data types. The app provides you customization options to personalize the QR codes along with a few different options to save the output. What’s more, there is third-party integration support for a few apps, and you can even print your generated QR codes using AirPrint. As you would’ve guessed by now, most of these features are limited to the paid subscription tier, so you need to upgrade your plan to use Qrafter to its full potential.

Qrafter QR Code Generator app

Pricing: Free, Paid
Download Qrafter

3. QR Code Generator

QR Code Generator & Creator is an Android-exclusive QR code generator app. It offers a variety of features and functionality to help you generate QR codes as per your requirements. The app covers a wide range of use-case scenarios by supporting the most commonly used data types. Like most QR code generators, QR Code Generator also comes with templates to simplify your QR generating experience. And for those who need more control over the appearance of their QR codes, the app presents you with different customization options. What’s more, besides QR code generation, QR Code Generator & Creator can also be used to scan/read QR codes.

Qr Code Generator app

Pricing: Free, Paid
QR Code Generator

4. Barcode Generator

Barcode Generator is a very basic (yet popular) QR and barcode generator and scanner for Android. The app is available for free and covers all the essential features you need to create a functional QR code. It has also got you covered in terms of data types with its extensive support for various types of code generators. Similarly, you also get a few different sharing options, including the ability to export QR codes as image files. So if you are looking for a QR code generator for Android that just works, Barcode Generator is the one you need.

Code Generator app — Barcode Generator

Pricing: Free
Download Barcode Generator

5. QR Code Reader & Generator / Barcode Scanner

QR Code Reader & Generator / Barcode Scanner is another QR code and barcode scanner for Android with a host of features. The app makes creating QR codes and reading them on your Android device much easier. It supports a few different data types that you can use to create QR codes as per your requirements. What’s more, to add to the convenience, the app also features support for a flashlight so you can read QR codes in low-lighting environments.

Qr Code Reader Generator

Pricing: Free, Paid
Download QR Code Reader & Generator / Barcode Scanner

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