Monday, February 20, 2012

A Little Tech At RootsTech


I LOVE business cards. I collect them, but you knew that. In preparing for RootsTech, the genealogist's technology extravaganza, I decided to add a little tech to my cards by way of a QR Code (Quick Response Code).

Now, there has recently been much discussion regarding QR Codes on genealogy and design blogs, a RootsTech Lecture about them (Genealogical Resources for QR Codes from Thomas MacEntee), and some vendors in the exhibit hall using them on their cards and their products. Even the TechLess Mr. Maven asked me to download a scanner for his iPhone so he could check them out in his hunting magazines. I view this as an indication the QR Code's time has come.

Kerry Scott author of Clue Wagon, and the article (What Do Modern Business Cards Look Like For Genealogists), in talking about QR Codes asked, "Does it make sense to include them on the card itself? Because the QR code is just going to direct you to my website, which is already printed on the card. If you have a card, you probably don’t need a QR code. To me, the QR codes make more sense on objects other than business cards, because they mostly serve as an alternative to them."

Kerry was responding to a post by Michael Hait, Planting Seeds (21st Century business card designs) discussing the need for a QR Code on your business card. Thomas used an image of Michael Hait's business card as an example in his QR Code Lecture, Genealogical Resources for QR Codes.

Here is my two cents worth. I agree with Michael that we need QR Codes on our business cards, but not as limiting as his discussion. I agree with Kerry; why have them if they are only going to direct you back to a website listed on your card? So, I included a QR Code on my business card and created a page just for RootsTech explaining Shades, how and where to find it, and a sort of why should anyone listen to me section. If I were to attend another conference I could alter this page for the next conference specifically without designing a new QR Code and having new business cards printed. By the way, I met Kerry at RootsTech. She is absolutely lovely and thinks I may have a new career in QR Design. Hmmm!

Now those who have spent anytime at footnoteMaven know I couldn't add just the QR Code, I would have to do something unique. On the back of my card is a photographer's imprint from the mid-1800s. I removed the photographer information and added my QR Code. Shades is, after all, a magazine about old photographs and this seemed only fitting. I may just have outsmarted myself though, some people thought it was just part of the design and never noticed it was a QR Code. I will ponder this in future designs.

Joining me with "A Little Tech At Roots Tech" are the following tech savvy bloggers.

Caroline Pointer
For Your Family Story

Becky Jamison
Grace And Glory

I'm certain their were others, I just didn't receive them. I'm also writing an article about how to make a QR Code, How To Make A QR Code Beautiful, Some Of The Most Beautiful QR Codes I've Seen, and Some of the VERY interesting things I'm doing with QR Codes in Genealogy and Old Photos. Check back.


Blogger Michael Hait said...

I am amused at just how often my business card post has been misunderstood. I don't actually use the business card example from that post. I even stated that it was just an example of a possible business card w/ a QR code, created using a free online tool.

The point I was making was that putting a QR code on your business card was a good idea. :)

If I can add a brief story to illustrate this: last summer I took a few packs of Meet-Meme "trading cards" (which do have QR codes on them) to IGHR to hand out with my regular business cards to a few people. They were a hit! And everyone with a smartphone immediately scanned the code! I didn't have anything special attached to it, but people still wanted to see what it did.

The code certainly doesn't have to point directly to your web page -- I like your idea of having an event-specific landing page linked to your QR code. I can also envision different QR codes linked to different aspects of a marketing campaign--flyers, business cards, books, etc.--to help track the effectiveness of each aspect. I am sure that pro marketers have already figured all this out, but I'm just a lowly genealogist. ;)

February 20, 2012 at 3:20 PM  
Blogger Jacqi Stevens said...

Looking forward to "The Most Beautiful QR Codes" post. You do have a knack for that! Liked your photographer's imprint idea.

February 20, 2012 at 3:34 PM  
Blogger footnoteMaven said...

Michael - Thanks for the insight. I got the same reaction to my cards. I chalk that up to the newness factor.

I realize your article was limiting only in the brief subject matter it addressed. QR Codes could fill a book. Wait, I think they already have.

I have some ideas that are not just PR related, rather more genealogical research related. Only time, or the next great thing, will tell. -fM

February 20, 2012 at 4:55 PM  
Blogger footnoteMaven said...

Jacqi - glad you liked it. I have found some truly amazing QR Codes that I am experimenting with.

Beautiful is good, but it must lead you somewhere equally as beautiful.

And thank you for taking the time to comment. -fM

February 20, 2012 at 4:57 PM  
Blogger Caroline said...

My biz card featured above has a QR code that does link to my website. And while I do like the idea of a landing page, my defense of the website link is that people scan these QR codes with smartphones. Usually. So, I want them to go to my website and bookmark it. A landing page is usually more successful when you're issuing a call to action for something very specific.

Just my 2 cents.


February 21, 2012 at 8:21 PM  
Blogger footnoteMaven said...

No justification is needed, Caroline. A QR can do a thousand different things. Anything YOU want.

I wanted to have a link for everything and still have a mainly white space web page.

Plus, my genealogy life is purely fun! You and others are working genealogists.

Just proud to see how many family historians stuck their toe in the QR pond.!

February 21, 2012 at 10:12 PM  
Blogger KathyJB said...

I ordered new business cards just before coming to RootsTech, and wanted to include a QR code as well. I decided to make mine a contact info code rather than a link to my website. In my mind, most people use their phone camera (rather than a tablet) to capture a QR code. It didn't make much sense to me to have someone go to my site on a cell phone.

So my QR code gives my phone number, web URL, and contact information, which can all be saved as a contact on someone's mobile device. These are mini cards (about the size of a stick of gum) and have one of eight different old photos of my ancestors placed on one side, with the QR code and basic info on the other. ~Kathy

February 22, 2012 at 8:09 AM  
Blogger Becky Thompson said...

Well "thank you", fM, for including my card in your examples. Your post is quite interesting and encouraging. I've been reading where some people think QR codes are already a thing of the past. I can't wait to read your follow-up articles----I'll keep watching for them. I LOVE your card--you always have the BEST designs!

February 22, 2012 at 5:05 PM  
Anonymous Linda Gartz said...

How ironic! As I sit here in my favorite coffee shop, waiting for my business post cards to be printed for the upcoming AWP convention in Chicago (I hope they're less likely to be tossed than tiny business cards) , I read you post and realize, Darn! Didn't even think of the QR code - oh well, next batch. Thanks for a great article. BTW, Lynn Palermo pointed me to your post today.


February 27, 2012 at 7:42 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Some great thoughts on QR codes. I am so glad that I got to see yours. It's as classy as you are! Thanks for including mine as an example. Keep up the great work!

February 27, 2012 at 8:24 AM  
Blogger J. Paul Hawthorne said...

Since I don't have a personal blog or a web site built yet, maybe I can put on the back of my cards, "My top 5 bloggers" ... You of course would be on it!

February 28, 2012 at 7:40 AM  

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