QR codes have become an increasingly popular way to quickly and easily transfer information. According to Statista, in the United States alone, 89 million smartphone users scanned QR codes on their mobile devices in 2022, increasing by 26% compared to 2020. Furthermore, it is projected that the number of mobile QR code scanners will reach over 100 million within the United States by 2025, indicating a constant growth trend.
Such an increase in the popularity of QR codes makes them a must-have for any business or organisation that wants to keep up with the times.
However, creating a QR code is not enough to guarantee a seamless experience for users. To ensure that the QR code works as intended, it is important to test it prior to implementation.
Testing a QR code involves verifying that the QR code is scannable and the data encoded within it can be appropriately accessed by a user. Such QR code testing allows the identification of any possible errors so that they can be corrected before the QR code is used in any way.
In this article we will delve into the various methods of QR code testing, exploring everything from visual inspections to scanning techniques. So, without further ado, let’s embark on this informative journey towards QR code testing.
What is a QR Code?
QR codes, short for Quick Response codes, are two-dimensional barcodes composed of square and rectangle modules arranged in a grid-like pattern. These barcodes are capable of encoding 4296 alphanumeric characters, 7089 numeric characters, 2953 bytes of data, or 1817 Kanji characters, making them ideal for storing large amounts of data compared to traditional barcodes.
Check out our Barcode 101 guide to learn about all barcodes and their types of symbologies (liner and two-dimensional).
QR codes have been gaining immense popularity due to their ability to store more data and the fact that they can be scanned and decoded rapidly using smartphones. Today, QR codes are widely used for various purposes, such as mobile payment systems, sharing information (website URLs, text messages, documents), advertising campaigns, and much more.
QR codes also offer unique features that differentiate them from other barcode types. These features include
- Size flexibility – QR codes can be created in different sizes. They can also be size-adjusted once they are generated. However, doing so is not recommended, as changing the QR code image size leads to image distortion and affects its scannability. Our guide on QR code size will help you with appropriate QR code sizing.
- Error correction – QR codes have a built-in error correction capability, allowing them to be decoded even if the code is partially damaged, faded, or dirty.
- Kana and Kanji characters compatibility – QR codes can encode Kanji and Kana characters, making them an ideal choice for encoding Japanese text.
- Data encoding flexibility – QR codes can store different data types such as plain text, URLs, location details, contact information, images, etc.
- Omnidirectional feature – QR codes are omnidirectional, meaning they can be scanned from any direction and do not require the user to align the code and the scanner.
- Graphical customisation flexibility – QR codes can be easily customised with colours, logos and other graphics to make them more visually appealing.
How to Check If a QR Code Works?
Now that we better understand QR codes and their features, let’s explore the methods to check if a QR code works.
There are two ways to the functionality of QR codes –
- Visual inspection
- Actual scanning
Triton highly suggests conducting both tests to ensure maximum accuracy.
Visual inspection is a simple and cost-effective way of testing the functionality of QR codes. This test entails visually analysing the QR code image itself to verify that it contains all elements, is properly aligned and does not contain any distortions or deformations that could interfere with its scannability.
To perform a visual inspection, you need to open the QR code image on a computer screen or print it out and check the QR codes.
- Physical structure and elements
- Image quality
- Colour and contrast
The goal of visual inspection is to check if the QR code follows all applicable standards and is not missing any necessary elements. If all of the above elements are properly aligned, it is a sign that your QR code is correct on the physical structure side.
Let’s understand in detail how to visually inspect a QR code –
Physical Structure and Elements
QR codes have a standard structure that makes information readable. It features the following elements.
- Matrix Pattern – Square and rectangle modules arranged in a grid-like pattern
- Positioning Markers – Three identical large squares located at the top right, top left, and bottom left corners
- Alignment Markers – A square with a black dot in the centre (position varies depending on the size of the QR code)
If you are interested in learning the workings of QR codes and these elements, we highly recommend you refer to our comprehensive guide on how QR codes work.
In case the QR code image misses any of these elements, it is a sign that the QR code will not be decoded correctly.
QR Code Image Quality
Check the QR code image for any blurriness, pixelation or distortion. Ensure the QR code is crisp and clear with no visible defects or deformations.
In general, QR codes should be printed on high-quality paper with a resolution of a minimum of 300 DPI for best results and higher readability. Low print resolution causes QR code image distortion, which affects its scannability.
Moreover, it is also recommended to save QRs in a correct image format suitable for their intended purpose. For example, raster formats like PNG or JPG work well for web-based QR codes, while vector formats like SVG or PDF should be used for printing purposes.
Refer to our QR code best practices guide for more tips and tricks on creating engaging QR codes.
QR Code Colour and Contrast
When visually inspecting a QR code, ensure it has appropriate contrast between its foreground and background colour. It is always recommended to use a dark colour for the data modules and a light colour for the background. It is also recommended to avoid complex colour schemes that can interfere with the QR code’s scannability.
Some popular colour combinations for QR codes include black and white, blue and white, and yellow and black.
QR Code Size
The size of a QR code affects how easily it can be read. The size of a QR code should be large enough to be recognised by smartphone cameras and barcode scanners to be decoded correctly.
As a rule of thumb, the minimum size of a QR code should be at least 2 cm by 2 cm (0.8 inches by 0.8 inches), excluding the quiet zone.
The distance between the code and the scanner determines the appropriate size of a QR code. The further away the scanner, the larger the QR code size must be used for successful scanning.
We have an entire guide dedicated to QR code sizing, which will help you understand more about the ideal size for QR codes and also provide a mathematical method to calculate the optimal size of a QR code as per your needs.
Once you are done with the visual inspection, you need to scan the QR code to test its functionality. This will help you identify if there are any issues with the underlying data or if there are any compatibility problems.
Before scanning a QR code, it is highly recommended to know whether it is a Static QR or Dynamic QR.
A static QR code is a one-time use code that contains a set of predefined data and does not change once created. A dynamic QR code, on the other hand, can be updated with new data as many times as you want without changing the actual look of the QR code. Our dynamic vs. static QR code guide will familiarise you with these two types of QR codes and help you understand the differences.
Once you know whether it is a static or dynamic QR, you can easily scan a QR code using any smartphone, tablet or dedicated barcode scanner (more on QR code scanning later). When scanning a QR code, you need to check the following parameters.
- Scanning speed
- Preview and correctness of data
- Working of CTA (if included)
Scanning speed is the time it takes for a scanner to read and decode a QR code. An ideal scanning speed should be between 0 and 3 seconds.
In case the scanning speed is more than 3 seconds, it could be an indication that there is a problem with your QR code image, like QR code size or QR code colour contrast. In this case, you will need to make changes to the QR code image and re-scan.
QR code compatibility refers to the ability of a scanner to decode a particular type of QR code.
Testing QR codes across different scanner types, such as mobile phones, tablets, and dedicated barcode scanners, is highly recommended. This will help you understand if the QR code is supported by all types of scanners or not.
Preview and Correctness of Data
Once you scan a QR code, it should open a preview page showing what type of information has been encoded in the QR code (i.e., website URL, PDF File, etc.). You should check if the data is correct and if it matches what you expect.
Working of CTA (if included)
CTA, or call-to-action, is the action that you want your users to take after scanning a QR code. This could include redirecting users to a website URL, downloading an app, etc.
When testing your QR code, you should check if the CTA is working correctly and whether it leads users where they are supposed to go. If not, you need to make changes and re-test your QR code.
How to Scan QR Codes Using Mobile Devices?
Scanning QR codes using mobile devices is a straightforward process.
Many modern smartphones have a built-in QR code reading feature via a camera app or Google Lens. However, some older models may not have this functionality built-in, so it is required to install a separate QR code scanner app from the Apple App Store or Google Play store.
In this section, we will discuss both primary methods.
- For mobile devices with a QR code scanner integrated into the camera
- For mobile devices without a QR code scanner integrated into the camera
Both these methods make QR code scanning a breeze on mobile devices, providing an easy platform for users to interact with QR codes.
QR Scanning Using Inbuilt Camera Functionality
Follow the steps below to scan QR codes using your mobile device’s inbuilt camera (if available):
- Open the camera app from your smartphone’s Home screen, Control Center, or Lock screen.
- Position your device in such a way that the intended QR code is visible in the Camera app’s viewfinder.
- If your device supports QR code scanning, a notification will appear showing the information encoded in the QR code.
- Simply tap on this notification to open the link or view the data.
Please note that some smartphones require the user to enable the QR code scanning feature before they can use it. To check if this is the case for your device, open the Camera app and look for a Settings or More icon at the top of the viewfinder. Tap on it and then look for an option that says Enable/Disable QR Code Scanner (or something similar).
QR Scanning Using a QR Code Scanner App
If your mobile device does not have an inbuilt QR code scanner, you can use a third-party app. Follow the steps below to set up the scanning process:
- Open the Google Play Store or Apple App Store and look for a suitable QR Code Scanner app.
- Download and install the app on your device.
- Open the app and point your camera at the intended QR code.
- The app will detect the code and display information about it along with a link, if applicable.
- To open the link, tap on it or tap “Open” in some apps.
How to Test a QR Code? - Tips and Tricks
Testing QR codes is an essential step in outputting a QR code and ensuring it is working correctly. This helps to identify and rectify any issues with the code, such as incorrect data or compatibility problems, before it goes live.
This section will share some tips and methods to help you test QR codes.
Compatibility With Different Devices
QR codes must be tested using multiple devices and platforms, such as Android smartphones and tablets, iOS devices and a dedicated QR code reader. This is important to ensure that the QR code is compatible with all types of scanners and can be read efficiently by all of them.
To test a QR code, simply print it out on paper and scan it using different devices. Check the scanning speed and correctness of data to ensure everything is working as expected.
Compatibility With Web Browsers
Browser compatibility is a crucial factor when evaluating QR codes, especially if they are dynamic or redirect to web content.
Different browsers have different data rendering and interpreting capabilities, leading to content appearance and functionality variations. Therefore, it is important to test QR code data on different browsers and ensure they work correctly.
In order to ensure that your QR codes work on all major browsers, you should test the data/link encoded in it across different platforms, including Google Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Microsoft Edge, and others. Ensure the content’s layout, images, fonts, and other visual elements appear correctly in all browsers.
Test Scanning Distance
Scanning distance refers to the appropriate range within which you can scan a QR code.
Before testing the scan range, you need to identify the use cases for which the QR code will be used. Will it be scanned from a close range, like a tabletop and glass window or a distance, like a billboard or hoarding?
Once you know the use cases, you should test your QR code at various distances to determine its maximum scan range. The output should be checked for accuracy and speed of data decoding/rendering.
The scanning distance test will help ensure users can scan the QR code from their desired range.
Compatibility of the Same QR Code in Different Sizes
Similar to the scanning distance test, you should check the compatibility of a QR code in different sizes. Depending on the use cases, print out your QR code in various sizes and scan it with multiple devices.
Check for accuracy and speed of data decoding at each size to ensure that your users can easily scan the code regardless of size.
Different Lighting Conditions
Environmental lighting conditions play a huge role in successful QR code scanning. Low lighting does not allow the scanner to detect a QR code properly, while direct sunlight and very bright light make it difficult for the camera sensor to focus. This is why it’s important to understand how your users interact with the code and test its compatibility under various light conditions.
In order to test a QR code in different lighting conditions, scan it in natural sunlight, fluorescent lighting, dimly-lit rooms and other varying environments. This will help determine its compatibility with different light sources and ensure successful scans every time.
If you intend to place a QR code in a dimly lit or low-lighting environment, it is also suggested to test QR code scanning by switching on the device’s flashlight. This will ensure that if a user needs to use the flashlight to decode a QR code, it can be done with ease.
QR codes are omnidirectional, meaning they can be scanned from any angle. However, this feature must be tested to ensure the code can be scanned and decoded correctly from any angle.
To test this, print out a QR code on a piece of paper and scan it at various angles, including top-down, sideways and diagonally. This will help identify if there are any issues with its orientation or angle of scanning.
Error Correction Level Test
QR codes are equipped with error correction capability. This capability allows them to be successfully scanned and decoded even if parts of the code are dirty, smudged, missing or damaged. The error correction feature is enabled by setting a particular error correction level during QR code generation.
It is important to test this error correction level before rolling out a QR code to ensure that its data remains intact and can be decoded correctly despite accidental damage or dirt.
To test the error correction, print out a QR code and intentionally make some alterations, such as covering a few modules with black ink, placing mud or dirt on its surface, or even scratching parts of the code.
Once you have made your alterations, scan the QR code with multiple devices and check if its data still remains intact. If the code is still scannable and decodes data correctly, it means that the error correction level set for the code during generation was correct.
Please note that free QR code generators do not provide any error correction settings. If you plan to use QR codes in areas subject to damage or dirt, you should use an advanced pair QR code generator tool.
One such tool is Seagull Scientific’s BarTender Software. Not only can this tool help you design visually appealing and customised QR codes, but it will also allow you to create barcode labels and automate the entire label printing and management process. With BarTender Software, you can create the following types of QR codes.
- GS1 QR code
- iQR code
- Micro QR code
- QR code
- GS1 digital link QR code
Triton is proud to be a trusted provider of Seagull Scientific BarTender Software. We offer all four on premise editions namely, Starter Edition, Professional Edition, Automation Edition and Enterprise Edition – to meet your specific needs. Whether you’re a small start-up or a large corporation, we have the perfect solution to streamline your operations and ensure that your barcode generation and labelling process is efficient and accurate.
And for those looking to modernise their systems and work from the cloud, we’re proud to offer the latest BarTender cloud – a cloud-based version of BarTender software that eliminates the need to install and manage BarTender on individual computers.
With Triton, you can trust that you’re getting the best prices around. Choose us for all your BarTender requirements and see the difference for yourself.
Check Different Customisation Options
QR codes can be customised to any level, from changing the colour design of the modules to adding logos, images and even custom frames. Customising QR codes can make them more visually appealing and align them with the overall look of a brand.
Before rolling out a customised QR code to the public, testing its accuracy and data conversion speed is important. Try different colour schemes to ensure the code still scans under various lighting conditions. Add a logo or image to check if it does not interfere with data decoding. Also, check for compatibility of the customised QR code in different sizes and angles.
Following these tests of a customised QR code will help ensure its accuracy and successful scanning from any environment.
Test QR Code Readability on Different Surfaces
QR codes can be placed on various surfaces such as walls, glass windows, paper, metal and even fabric. However, the readability of a code is affected by the surface it is printed on. This is because different surfaces reflect light differently and can either interfere with the scanner or make it difficult to detect a code.
In general, glossy surfaces like glass windows and metal should be avoided when placing a QR code. This is because shiny surfaces scatter light, making it more difficult for the scanner to read the code.
To test the readability of a QR code on different surfaces, it is suggested to print out multiple copies of one QR code and place each copy on a surface to be used. Then, use a QR code scanner to decode each code while ensuring the scanner is held at different distances and angles for all scans.
Test QR Code Readability With Deformation
QR codes are often placed on curved or bent surfaces for practical purposes, making it challenging for scanners to detect and decode them accurately. If your generated QR code is intended to be placed on a curved surface, it is recommended that you test its readability and decoding accuracy before deploying.
To do this, print out multiple copies of the QR code and place them on a curved or bent surface such as a bottle or vase. Scan the code from devices and at different angles. Also, shine a flashlight on the code and observe if the code is still readable. If the QR code can be decoded from different angles, distances and lighting conditions, it means that it is ready to be deployed on curved surfaces.
Compatibility With Lamination
QR codes can be laminated for protection if placed outdoors. However, it is important to test the compatibility of a QR code with lamination before attaching it to surfaces.
To check this, print out multiple copies of one QR code and laminate each copy differently. You can use various thicknesses of laminations for testing purposes. Then, scan each code using a device and observe if it can be decoded accurately.
How to Test QR Codes Online?
Testing QR codes online is a great way to check their accuracy and decodability without printing out multiple copies. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to check a QR code online.
- Visit a QR code testing website
- Upload the QR code image/file you wish to test
- Scan the code
- Verify the data encoded in the QR code
To ensure a comprehensive check, it’s recommended to use multiple online QR code readers. Each reader may have different levels of accuracy or compatibility, so testing with a few can offer more reliable validation of the QR code’s functionality.
QR Code Test Image - A Sample for QR Code Testing
This section will show you how to scan a QR code using your smartphone’s camera. Specifically, we will go through the step-by-step process for testing dynamic QR codes.
The provided sample QR code is a dynamic QR code. It redirects users to a page that has three different URLs.
- Triton Home – https://tritoncomsys.com/
- Triton Austrlia – https://tritonstore.com.au/
- Triton New Zealand – https://tritonstore.co.nz/
To scan the sample QR codes, please follow these steps.
Step 1: Open Camera App
Open your phone’s camera app and point the camera at the QR code.
Step 2: Scan the QR Code
Once you have pointed the camera at the QR code, wait for your device to pick up on it. Once it does, a notification will appear, prompting you to open up the link provided by the QR code.
Step 3: View The Links
Tap on the notification to open the link provided by the QR code in your browser. You should be able to view all three associated URLs related to Triton. This indicates that the dynamic QR code works as expected and can be used without any issues.
Step 4: Open Individual Links
Each URL corresponds to a different page. Tap each link individually and ensure you are redirected to the correct web pages. This will confirm that the dynamic QR code correctly redirects users to their intended destination.
Step 5: Explore the Destination Pages
Once you open the destination pages, explore them and ensure they display correctly. If all attributes, such as texts, colours, images, etc., are displayed as expected on each page, it means the QR code is working without any issues.
By following these steps, you can easily test a dynamic QR code to ensure its accuracy.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a QR Code Test?
A QR code test is a process of verifying that the code created is functional and effective. The test involves scanning a QR code with multiple devices, such as smartphones or tablets, to check if it works across various platforms. The test also checks if the QR code has the correct URL, data, and image resolution for effective scanning.
Why is QR Code Testing Important?
It is essential to test the QR codes to ensure an effective user experience and to avoid inconveniences like slow performance or incorrect information delivery. Testing helps ensure that your codes translate the information into different languages, optimise image resolution, and identify challenges that may cause the code not to work like different screen resolutions.
What Makes a QR Code Invalid?
A QR code can become invalid due to various reasons, such as.
- Low image resolution
- Dirt or scratches on the QR code image
- Incorrect QR code design parameters
- Incorrect URL or data
How Often Should I Test My QR Codes?
It is recommended to test QR codes right after generating them and before deploying them publicly.
Can I Use Custom-Designed QR Codes? Do They Require Special Testing?
Yes, you can use custom-designed QR codes. These QR codes do not require any special testing. However, it is essential to ensure that the design parameters are correctly followed and that the design does not compromise the scannability of the code.
Can QR Codes Be Used for Purposes Other Than Directing to a Website?
Yes, QR codes can be used for various other activities, such as making payments, linking to contact information in marketing materials, launching music/video files, downloading an app, connecting to a Wi-Fi network, displaying text messages and more.
The Bottom Line
In conclusion, QR code technology has undoubtedly become integral to our technology-driven world, providing seamless access to information with just a simple scan. However, the efficiency and effectiveness of a QR code depend largely on its quality and compatibility with various devices and conditions.
Therefore, testing a QR code for its readability, accuracy, and functionality is paramount. This process ensures a smooth user experience and helps avoid any potential inconveniences or inaccuracies due to improper QR code functioning.
The aforementioned methods and steps for QR code testing serve as a comprehensive guide to ensure your QR codes work flawlessly, providing the desired results and meeting your specific goals.
We hope this article has given you a better understanding of QR code testing and the importance of verifying their accuracy before being deployed in public.
Thanks for reading!