This Is How You Run a Proper QR Code Test | Blog

This Is How You Run a Proper QR Code Test

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If you think testing a QR code is an off-the-cuff matter, think again. A QR code test requires checking some pretty critical elements to make it functional. This is how it should be done.

You have created your QR code for personal use or for business purposes, and you feel you are ready to export it, print it, and put it to good use. But have you wondered whether all the effort you put in designing your code has paid off to make it functional?

Imagine you are using it for a billboard campaign outdoors and your prospect cannot scan it with their mobile device because the code is too small. Or you have created a business card QR code to use for networking, and your potential business contact cannot save your personal details because the contrast is not correct.

Testing your QR codes matters and can spare you a financial headache, so let’s look at the key elements you want to check when running a QR code test.

Table of Contents

Why Doing a QR Code Test

When you have exported your code to either in PNG or SVG format, you must test it before use. It might sound obvious but people can rely too much on technology and forget the importance of testing.

Not testing your QR code could be costly. For instance, if you are running a marketing campaign and have printed an inoperative QR code on thousands of copies of a flyer, your money will have gone into the drain.

At a restaurant, if you use a QR code for a PDF to link to your menu and the size or the contrast does not allow your clientele to scan the QR code, you are in for a customer service headache that could make you lose dinners on the spot.

Scanning QR codes before using them is the best way to test them. But what is it that you test when you scan them?

Also see What Is a QR Code and How You Can Create One

How to Test QR Code

There are several elements you must check when scanning your new QR code for the first time. This is how you do a QR code test so you can go all through them in a breeze!

Scan it from different distances

Woman doing a QR code test with a smartphone from a specific distance
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To make sure the embedded data can be accessed, you must test the code’s scannability at different distances. This is so because there is a strong correlation between size and how far the code can be scanned.

Following this reasoning, the smaller the QR code, the closest it should be scanned. So, for example, if you are using a dynamic QR code in product packaging, the minimum size should be 2 x 2 cm —0.8 x 0.8 in— so it can be scanned effectively.

The size to scanning distance ratio for a QR code with a smartphone camera is 10:1, and the code’s format will also play an essential role in scannability at a distance.

PNG Format

The QR code PNG format is small and useful, and it is suitable for images with a transparent or semi-transparent background. The PNG format is the smallest in comparison, so stretching it beyond its limits could render it difficult —or impossible— to scan.

PNG QR codes are best used for web so users can scan them online, and for small prints such as restaurant menus, book covers, or as a business card QR code.

SVG Format

The SVG format is bigger than PNG and it is perfect for bigger prints such as posters and billboards. To test this larger format, keep in mind the size-distance ratio so you have an accurate measure.

Do the QR code test under different lighting conditions

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Light can extensively affect the scannability of QR codes. Scanning a code under poor lighting —either with a scanning app or a smartphone camera— could hamper the code’s ability to link to the embedded data.

The first thing you need to know before running a test is the time of day at which you want the code to be scanned.

For instance, if you want to display your code indoors under mild lighting —at a concert entrance or a theater— the contrast between the background and the foreground must be higher.

So, print a sample of your QR code and test it under different lighting conditions —including the ones in which you intend to use it— so you can adjust the contrast between the code’s main elements.

Scan the code on different devices

Woman doing a QR code test on a tablet
Holding tablet photo created by –

There are several QR code scanners available to access the information contained in a code —some of them are free on Apple’s App Store or Google Play Store. However, the operating systems of the different smartphone and tablet brands can make the code operate differently.

So, scanning a code with Android or iOS could be a different gig altogether, as some codes could only be picked up by one or the other if they are not designed and printed the right way.

Also, different browsers such as Google Chrome or Safari can also play a role in how quickly a scanning device can open the code —it is widely accepted that anything over 2 seconds means there is something wrong with the code.

So, if after testing the code with 5 different devices —smartphones, tablets, scanning apps, etc— your code does not work, it is time to go back to the generator to do some tweaking.

Check the internet connection

No wifi vector created by storyset –

The internet connection where the QR code will be displayed is of the utmost importance, especially if it’s a URL QR code that connects to a page, a video, or more. Using a QR code of these characteristics where there is no internet will absolutely defeat the purpose.

So, make sure that, when using a dynamic code or a code that contains a link that requires an internet connection, users will have the access granted.

Make sure embedded data is correct

A QR code containing the wrong information is certainly something you want to avoid. So don’t get caught up in the whirlwind of a marketing campaign and put the wrong information in your code!

Keep customization at a low

Graphic of how QR codes can be tested on several different devices
Qr scanner vector created by vectorjuice – allows you to customize your QR codes to fit your needs. You can change the foreground and background colors, the shape of the dots, the marker color, and even add a frame with a call-to-action and a logo.

But as the saying goes, less is more. Too much customization can affect the code’s performance —little contrast between the colors and choosing a smaller dot pattern could not be the way to go when you intend to use your code from a large distance.

While personalizing the code is exciting and a satisfying task, you must always focus on functionality.


Does size matter for QR codes?

Indeed it does. Too small a QR code and users will not be able to scan it. To determine the right size, you must identify the intended use and the approximate scanning distance and always keep the 10:1 ratio in mind.

How to test QR code?

To test your QR code, check for the following elements:

  • Distance and format
  • Lighting conditions
  • Scanning devices
  • Internet connection
  • The right data


Testing, testing, testing. There is nothing more important when creating your QR code on a QR code generator. Now, you have greater knowledge as to how to do it properly and avoid costly headaches!

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Manage Your QR Code Campaigns lets you generate fully customized QR Codes, with color & shape, logo and keep track of how many people scan your QR Codes, from where and on what date.


Cristian Bustos

Cristian is Senior Content Manager for He is an experienced and versatile writer with a demonstrated history of working in journalism, public relations, and B2B marketing.