I’ve mentioned a few times on here how I love that fact that QR codes are essentially open-source. They don’t call back to some main database to pull the results, as all of the data is literally in the QR code itself. It’s a fantastic way to share simple bits of data, like links to a menu at a restaurant.
However, I’ve noticed a new trick that some websites are doing, and I fell prey to one myself. I needed to generate a few QR codes for an event, so I found a free QR code generator and created them. It required me to sign up for a free account, which seemed like a fair trade-off to me.
I didn’t look closely enough
The problem was that the QR code didn’t point directly to the links that I gave it; they used their own URL shortener for the links (and I didn’t pay close enough attention to notice). That’s not necessarily problematic, but it turns out they were only “free” for two weeks. After that, they were going to disable the shortener behind the codes, rendering them useless.
We had already shared the QR codes with folks and couldn’t redo them at that point, so we needed to pay the annual fee to keep them live. The whole idea of QR codes is to avoid nonsense like this, and I wasn’t careful with how I built them.
A lesson and a gift
First, watch out for this kind of thing. When you create a QR code, make sure it points to a URL that you control. This could be your website directly, or a trusted shortener like Bitly. If the site that creates it “helps” you out by shortening it, you could have trouble.
Second, I’ve created a simple QR code generator if you need to use it at mickmel.com/qr. It creates code that goes directly to the link you provide, so my website has zero bearing on the future effectiveness of the code that you create. I know there are many other places that do the same, but if you’re unsure if you’re using a reputable site, just use this link to get a 100% clean QR code.
That link doesn’t use any redirection, and nothing is saved on my server. It just creates a nice clean QR code for you and then moves on to the next person.
I hope you find that helpful!