At first blush, generating a QR code while shortening a URL seems like a great idea. If you need to generate unique QR Codes for your printed or mobile advertising strategy this is one way to get the job done.
The process is straightforward. You simply type or paste a URL into the text box, press the shorten button, and your new short/long URL is displayed at the top of your URL list. You then have the option to track click activity for each of the shortened URLs that you have created.
To access the QR Code you will need to click on the details link to get to the following display. You see what you would expect, the long URL, the short URL and the QR code.
I found this somewhat confusing; I could click on both the long and short URLs, but there are no graceful options for directly accessing or saving the QR Code. You actually have to highlight and copy the green link under the QR Code (in this case, http://goo.gl/AGXY.qr), and paste it into a browser. This is the only way to generate a clean QR Code that can be saved as a JPG file. It seems logical that Google should provide the functionality to generate and save codes as an option on this page, but they didn’t. This section needs some help from their usability team, as it feels like it was thrown together at short notice.
Google’s QR code generator is limited to encoding URLs only. If you have other marketing needs such as encoding contact information, or using the QR Code as a dialer, you will have to go elsewhere. There are other limitations: you can not specify levels of error correction, or use other options commonly found in QR code generators, such as the ability to specify display size. This is what you see. For a simple URL, this is just fine.
Just to be clear, the following QR code URL http://goo.gl/AGXY.qr that is produced with the Google platform is of little value for inclusion in a tweet or an email, as it does nothing but take you to the new QR code (which also has to be clicked on), thus inserting a second step between a customer and your content.
This service is clearly a step in the right direction, but this functionality falls short and will not meet the needs of marketers who have requirements beyond encoding URLs. Google is asking that marketers use two QR code platforms to meet their entire range of needs, and that is unlikely to happen. There is no recognized 2D code leader in the US yet, and it will take the telecoms or companies like Google to step forward to champion a 2D code standard. Google can do this, but they will have to expose more of the QR Code platform and functionality in a user-friendly format to take the lead.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.