Connect to Customers with 2D Barcodes - dummies

Connect to Customers with 2D Barcodes

2D barcodes and mobile tags are visual codes that can be scanned using any mobile phone or device equipped with a camera, an Internet connection, and an app that can read barcodes or tags.

2D barcodes and tags come in different shapes, brands, and colors, but they’re all part of a fast-evolving area of advertising. They’re showing up on billboards, buses, business cards, newspaper and magazine ads, and the contact pages of websites. In theory, you can use a 2D barcode on any object you can print in a decent resolution. (We’re thinking of making postage stamps next.)

Some 2D barcodes (such as the QR code at the top of the figure) look a little like a scrambled black-and-white checkerboard. Others, like the Microsoft tag at the bottom, are more colorful. The QR code and the Microsoft tag in this figure serve the same purpose — to make it easy for visitors to save contact information to their phones by scanning it with the phones’ built-in cameras.


Often designers want to make things as easy as possible for their visitors, no matter which 2D barcode reader they happen to have on their phones. It would be a good idea to download all apps in the following list of popular barcode software.

  • Microsoft Tags: Anyone with an Internet connection can create these colorful tags for mobile devices for free on the Microsoft Tag site, which makes them an increasingly popular addition to everything from business cards to bumper stickers.

    On the Microsoft Tag site, you can even customize the codes with your own photos in the background. To read the tags, you need the Microsoft Tag Reader application, which is available for the iPhone, iPad2, and most Android, BlackBerry, and Windows mobile devices.


  • QR codes (Quick Response codes): QR codes, are limited to black-and-white. But because they were the first, and have long been the most popular, 2D barcodes, they’re increasingly featured in ads in magazines and newspapers, and even on billboards and the sides of buildings.

    If you have an iPhone and you have the Google app, you already have a QR code reader because it’s built in. Just click the small camera in the Google app and point the camera on your iPhone or iPad at the QR code to activate it.