What is a QR code and how does it work? The Beginner's Ultimate Guide!

Last updated:   November 29, 2021

Are you also wondering what is a QR code or how do QR codes work?

For every technological advancement introduced to society, the struggles of understanding its uses and basic concepts are first to occur, right?

How can people be able to know how a thing works? Just like the introduction of QR codes in the new normal society, you may be thinking, how do these QR codes actually works?  

If you are only beginning to understand the basic works of a QR code, here is a QR code guide for beginner’s to know more about QR codes.

What is a QR code and how does it work?

how do qr codes workBefore we jump into the basic works of a QR code, we must first learn the basic concepts of a QR code.

A ‘Quick Response Code’ also known as QR code is a two-dimensional type of barcode that Denso Wave develops, a Japanese barcode developer, in 1994.

QR codes are scan-able using smartphones devices, which are natively developed to scan/detect QR codes. These codes are generated using an online QR code generator that displays an online information to the scanner when scanned. 

Related: QR code types: 15 primary QR solutions and their functions

Today, QR codes are generally used in advertising, business, health care, and education. 

However, business sectors, especially in the advertising and operations, most widely use QR codes.

You can find QR codes in brochures, flyers, posters, billboards, items and products, business cards, and even online websites such as social media and shopping sites.

There are two types of QR codes: the static QR code and Dynamic QR code.

Brief History of QR codes

types of qr codesThe use of technology alleviates people’s efforts in labor. Just like the creation of QR codes, it holds a specific job to alleviate. In the early 1960s, the economy of Japan entered high economic growth.

During this period, supermarkets and convenience stores thrive and are selling a wide range of commodities ranging from food to clothing. 

To keep up with the demand for checkout counters, the use of cash registers was implemented. Due to manual inputting in checkout and sales, cashiers on the checkout counters experience numbness on their wrists and developed carpal tunnel syndrome.

As a solution to the problem, the Point on sales (POS) system was developed and incorporated the use of barcodes. 

In the long run, developers noticed the problem barcodes hold. The limit of 20 alphanumeric characters was not enough in holding a product’s information and the position of how a barcode is scanned leads to scan failures. 

Denso Wave stepped in and devised a new type of barcode that could hold more information and can be scanned in any scanner orientation.

Thus, the rise of QR codes promulgated in 1994 and has made history up to today. 

Two types of QR codes: Static and Dynamic

Static QR code static vs dynamic qr codes

Static QR codes are QR codes that are free and permanent. This type of QR code is not modifiable and therefore cannot change the data stored in the QR code.

Its uses include linking email addresses, URLs, texts, WIFI passwords, social media links such as Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Pinterest. Static QR codes hold three following features:

  • It is a one-time purpose QR code.
  • The data that can be stored is limited. If you use more information in generating a static QR code, the tendency of compromising the quality of the QR code is high.
  • It is free to use

Dynamic QR codesqr code tracking

Dynamic QR codes are QR codes that are modifiable in content and can store more data even after you printed it into the paper.

This type of QR code enables more access to real-time scans monitoring, locations of scans made. Dynamic QR codes bear 4 following features:

  • It is a multifunctional QR code for it allows multi-URL directories.
  • Editable and enables you to create/remove URLs.
  • It uses a short dynamic URL in storing data online.
  • It requires an active subscription

Related: What is the Difference Between Static QR Code and a Dynamic QR Code?

Types of QR codes and how do they work?

Since we elaborate on the basic concepts of QR codes, we can now proceed to how do QR codes work in people’s various fields of interest.

Here are 10 uses of QR codes and how it processes;

1. The URL QR codesurl qr codes

The generic and known usage for QR codes is for link directories. This use enables the user to scan the QR code using a QR code scanner app in the play store/app store or the built-in feature of their camera in their smartphone. 

Uses of QR codes are for websites, papers such as brochures, flyers, and catalogs; business cards, education, and store windows. Follow the URL QR code guide below to generate your own URL QR code. 

Here are 6 steps on how to generate URL QR code:

  • Go to www.qrcode-tiger.com 
  • Select the “URL” category on the menu.
  • Enter the link you want to generate in the given field below
  • Generate the QR code (dynamic or static QR code)
  • Customize your QR code by choosing a set of patterns, eyes, colors, and add your logo to create identity.
  • Test and download your QR code.

Related: How to create a URL QR Code

2. QR codes for video e.g. Youtube video, Google drive videovideo qr code

You can use these QR codes in sending links of videos from Youtube, and Google Drive to your family, friends, classmates, and coworkers.

This way, by scanning and viewing without any hassle, you can automatically replace the burden of manually typing the video’s title. 

Video QR codes are useful to educators, influencers, business marketers, and students who are searching for videos that can be used in their skill enrichment and share it with their peers. You can generate a Video QR code using an online QR code generator.

Related: How to Create a Video QR Code?

3. QR codes for Social Mediasocial media qr code

With the rise of the game of social media domination, QR codes are a helpful tool in raking more followers and subscribers. The social media QR codes comprise Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.

By generating your social media QR code, people won’t have a hard time inputting your social media username in the search navigator of the social media sites. 

Related: How to generate a free QR code for your social media accounts?!

Here is how a social media QR code works:

A social media QR code works by scanning the QR code in the QR code scanner app or built-in QR code camera in your smartphone and automatically directs the person who scans it towards the profile of the owner of the QR code.

In this way, you can lessen the struggle of scrolling through numerous profiles displays and automatically follow view, and interact with the content posted and shared by the owner of the social media QR code. 

Related: What Are The Benefits Of A Social Media QR Code?

4. QR codes for Emailemail qr code

QR codes for business associates with Emails. With 293.6 billion emails that are sent and received daily in 2019, it is evident that the email ecosystem is flourishing and thriving.

The convenience of Email QR codes comes in handy by embedding your email address in generating your QR code.

By this means, you can easily let users scan your email QR code without letting them type your email address. 

In marketing, you can use the email QR code in marketing your campaign by posting it on your website, advertising posts, and social media sites, products, etc, as long as the surface is scan-able and has no tendencies in creating folds and creases.

Related: Email address Marketing Vs QR Codes: Improve Your Email Marketing Campaigns by Use of QR Codes

5. QR codes for WiFi

wifi qr code

In a world where people’s lives revolve around stable internet access, the means of keeping your WiFi access safe and secure is a troubling task to maintain.

By using WiFi QR codes, you can replace the hassle of jotting down your WiFi password on a piece of paper by scanning and enjoying the WiFi connectivity without any configuration authorization needed. 

You can use your WiFi QR code in businesses such as WiFi access vending machine, restaurant and cafes, hotels, and more. 

Related: Why Should You Make A QR Code For Your Wifi Access

6.QR codes for Filesqr code for files

How do QR codes work in PDF? Files such as PDF, audio, images, and videos are vital in business, education, health care, and more. Keeping track of download links of these types of files can be difficult to maintain and manage.

The pertinence of QR codes for files varies to users and how they handle them. For a resourceful individual, the convenience of having a file QR code helps him/her record the number of files by saving and share them with his/her peers, students, and affiliates with a common interest. 

QR codes for files are dynamic QR codes since it requires prompt of uploading/saving files that are heavy for static QR codes to bear.

The QR codes for files are useful in restaurants, hospitals, institutions with researches, online classes, and marketing campaigns. QR codes for files are much needed in times of a medical outbreak, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, to maximize the urge for contactless interactions.

Related: How to generate a PDF QR code in 7 quick steps?

7. QR codes for Mobile Applicationsapp store qr code

How do QR codes work in-app? Well, finding new means of advertising a mobile application on the digital platform can be stressful to do.

Since customers need to click for the link of your applications or search for it in the App Store (for IOS) and Google Play Store (For Android).

The implementation of applying QR codes in your application can lessen the time a customer or user must interact with the application’s store, whether the App Store or Play Store.

The type of QR codes for mobile applications is dynamic since it allows data tracking such as real-time monitoring of scans made, profiles of the device used, location of the scans, and date of scans made.

Information stored and gathered in dynamic QR codes is important to the developers for it represents the trends that the app embedded QR codes made in growing the application’s downloads made.

 App store QR code guide article: How to Use App Store QR Codes

8. QR codes for multi-URL

multi url

Multi-URL QR codes are useful in marketing campaigns. It allows the injection of the campaign’s geographical subsidiary websites.

If you are in China, you are redirected to the Chinese equivalent of the campaign’s site. 

In this way, the hassle of using different URL QR codes lessens. And the designs made for your marketing campaign will look clean and pleasing to watch.

As minimalism is the code for today's designs, multi-URL QR codes are your go-to QR codes.

Related: How does a multi URL QR code works and can benefit your business? Smart QR code

9. QR codes for H5 editorh5 qr code

H5 editor QR codes are dynamic QR codes that allow users to create direct webpages. In this way, you don’t need any commercialized host domains for your events.

An H5 is a term that stands for the mobile versions of websites opened in mobile browsers. It is usually used in promoting events and products using an H5 page. 

H5 editor QR codes are usually used in marketing campaigns, restaurant and bar menus, events, etc. 

Related: How to make your restaurant or bar menu in a QR code?

10. QR codes for Business Cardsvcard qr code

Ever see a QR code on VCard and wonder, how do QR codes work on this little piece of artwork? QR codes on business cards are essential in connecting with potential customers, investors, and business partners.

It is a vital part of marketing your company’s credentials to the business community.

As the war for classy and elegant business cards occurs, QR codes for business cards can be your greatest tool in getting ahead of your competitors. 

Since the information needed in a business card is sometimes lengthy, the space provided in a typical business card template is not enough.

To avoid this problem, your basic information can be stored and generated into a QR code and attach them to your vCard without occupying too much space in the business card. 

The type of QR that can generate a business card is dynamic. It needs a lot of information to encrypt and embed it into the QR code. 

Related: How to Create QR Codes for Business Cards?

What qualities you should look for in a QR code generator

Now that we identify the evident uses of QR codes today, we can now proceed in generating a QR code. Before I reveal the steps on how to generate a QR code, here are 3 things that you should consider in choosing the best QR code generator that you can find online:

1. Credibility

a working QR code generator is tasked with whether it has the credibility to deliver quality QR codes. You can check its credibility by checking the QR code generator’s domain. If it has an SSL certificate or displays a safe and secure connection to the server.

2. Clarity 

One of the reasons why people are searching for the best QR code generator online is its clarity in executing and delivery of interface prompts. A vague QR code generator usually gets less attention from internet users. 

3. Trusted by big names and brands

Gaining trust from big brands boosts business influence on users. If the QR code generator is credited and acknowledged by large brands, then the QR code generator is legit and working.

Here is a step-to-step guide in generating a QR code.

  • Open a QR code generator with a logo like QRTiger.
  • Select the category you want to generate and follow the prompt of the chosen category.
  • Generate your QR code by choosing what type of QR code you want to generate ( static or dynamic QR code)
  • Customize your QR code by choosing a set of patterns, eyes, colors, and add a logo and tag for better recognition by users.
  • Test and download your QR code in print quality.
  • Deploy your QR code in the paper and digital platforms.

Related: Best QR Code Generator and How to Look for One?

How do payment QR codes work?how do qr codes work

Cashless transactions through payment QR codes are widely adapted in Eastern countries. This type of QR code promotes contactless interaction between the buyer and the seller.

With the prevailing COVID-19 pandemic, this payment method is suitable in practicing social distancing and following community health protocols. Here are 3 ways how payment QR codes work:

1. Smartphone scanning the recipient’s QR code.

Upon scanning the QR code, make sure that your smartphone supports the type of payment bill you are scanning. In this way, QR codes found in bills, transportation, and checkout counters can be easily scanned without any hassle. 

2. Retailer scanning a QR code on your phone screen.

This process is widely seen in movies and promotional videos of stores that use cashless payments using QR codes.

This process works when the amount of purchased items is identified at the checkout counters POS system. After the total amount is identified, the retailer will prompt you to open the app that associates with the transaction and create a QR code that they can scan and transfer funds with.

3. App-to-app payments.

By using app-to-app payments, funds stacked in a certain app will only be transferred using the same app. A great example of app-to-app transfer of funds and payment is Venmo, PayPal, and Google pay.

App-to-app payments work when both you and the recipient open the same payment app and transfer funds through inputting the amount of money you need to make payment with and generate a QR code that corresponds to the data of the amount contained.

After the code was generated, the recipient then scans the QR code and the app will notify the succession of the transfer.

By generating a free QR code, you can now experience how do QR codes work!

Since QR technology is integrated to become a multifunctional solution to problems in the society, the importance of understanding its basic concepts and mechanics is crucial to digital citizens and those who are starting to embrace the workings of technology in their daily lives.

QR code generators compete in delivering succinct and effective user experience. However, if the QR code generator doesn’t give a step-to-step QR code guide and how it works, then its mission in delivering meaningful user experience to its customers. 

If you want to start your QR code journey, you can start by choosing the best QR code generator with a logo online. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Are QR codes free to use?

YES and NO. The type of QR codes that online QR code generators offer are static and dynamic QR codes. The free QR codes are called static QR codes and it only offers a one-time QR code generation.

Once the information or data is generated into a static QR code, the information is permanent and irreplaceable.

The QR codes that are not free are called dynamic QR codes. This type of QR code stores data that are flexible, interchangeable, and multi-functional.

This offers additional features such as real-time scan counts, demographic profiling such as the address of the scans made, and type of device used; and timeline of scans made.

Related: Are QR codes free? Yes and No!

Is there a way that you can damage your QR codes?

Yes, if you are careless in generating your QR code. Theoretically, QR codes are more secure than the traditional barcodes as the damage that a QR code can control is up to 30% or as long as the key points of the QR code is visible and scannable. To avoid having a damaged or broken QR code, you should follow three important ways:

1. Always check if the URL you are going to generate is the one you want to embed in your QR code.

2. Check if the URL is working and it does not have potential future errors.

3. After generating your QR code, test it, and make sure that it directs you to the link that you have embedded in your QR code. 

How can I know that my QR codes work?

You can know if your QR code works when you scan it using various devices such as Android and IOS, and it easily directs you to the information that you have embedded in your QR code.

If your device doesn’t have a built-in QR code scanner, you can always download a QR code scanner app in your android or IOS devices.

Related: Does a QR code have to be black and white?

What OS version of Android does a built-in QR code scanner in the camera can be found?

The OS version of Android that has a built-in QR code scanner in the camera app is from Android 8.0 to the latest OS version, Android 10. You can use the QR code scanner in the embedded Google Lens app which can also be found in the camera interface. 

Related: 10 Reasons Why Your QR Code is Not Working!