How to Create Free QR Codes & Scannable Graphics
Images like the one below are everywhere. You’ve likely seen one of these at a restaurant instead of a printed menu, or at other businesses as a way to easily direct you to products or information online.
All you have to do is scan the code with your smartphone’s camera app and a link will appear for you to click on.
What you may not know is that images like this are called Quick Response codes, or QR codes, and they are easy to create, simple to use, and typically, free to make!
I recently helped a nail spa in San Diego make their service menu contactless by creating a free QR code and designing a custom branded and scannable sign for them to display at their front desk.
If you’re looking to do the same for your business, keep reading to learn exactly how I did it.
Before we get started, it’s important to mention that QR codes can be used to share many different types of information in a variety of formats; however, for the purposes of this blog, I’m going to be focusing specifically on creating a QR code that links to a URL or webpage.
1. Pick a URL or Webpage for Linking
When creating a QR code for something like a contactless menu, I always recommend linking it to a URL or webpage, not directly to a PDF file.
By doing it this way, you can easily update the information on that webpage without having to create a new QR code and/or sign.
For instance, if you already have a “Menu” or “Services” page on your website, I suggest linking the QR code to that existing webpage. This means whenever you make a change to your prices or offering, you’ll only need to do it in this one place.
If you don’t have a website or a page that lists this information, another option is to upload your menu as a PDF file to a cloud storage service, such as Google Drive, Dropbox, or Box. Once the file has been added to the cloud, it’s given a specific URL or web address which you can link to a QR code.
The downside to this cloud storage method is that making changes to your menu may require you to generate a new QR code and create new signage.
2. Create the QR Code
Once you’ve decided on the URL or web address you’ll be linking to, the next step is to create the QR code.
There are many free QR code generators available online, and after reviewing several of them, these are the two I like:
When you’re ready, click on one of the links above to be taken to a QR code generator. Select the “URL” option and paste your web address into the applicable field.
Both of these generators will allow you to customize the code by adding your logo, using brand colors, and changing the shape or style.
When your QR code is designed exactly as you’d like it, download it as a picture file (PNG or JPG) so it’s ready for the next step.
3. Design a Free Sign or Graphic in Canva
Now that you have your QR code, it’s time to create a sign or graphic so guests easily see it and are prompted to scan it.
I highly recommend using Canva, a free, online graphic design program where you can create nearly any sized graphic. Canva has templates you can use as a starting point, offers a variety of free photos and elements you can use to customize your design, and allows you to download your final product in a range of file formats.
For the nail spa I was working with, I created an 8” x 10” sign they could print out and place in an inexpensive frame from the craft or dollar store.
If you’ll be handing out or displaying your QR code in multiple locations, such as on tables, I suggest designing something in a ⅛ page or ¼ page size. This allows for easy printing, cutting, and distributing of the codes.
There are many different ways to use QR codes to save time and money in nearly every type of business. They are perfect for helping your customers and potential customers find important information in a quick, simple, and automated way.
If you would like to talk more about QR codes, discuss how they could benefit your business, or see how I can help create yours, please schedule a free consultation.