Epic guide to create a Designer QR Code

Designer QR Code Editor

Why do you need a designer QR Code?

A simple question like this has a simple answer: to create the right kind of interest in whatever business, event or campaign you’re running. Your goals could be to create a branded code that uses your company logo or has a unique theme. There are so many possibilities and thankfully this is your guide for everything you need to know about creating a stellar, eye catching yet functional QR Code.

What is a designer QR Code?

Custom QR Code for Spotify
Both QR Codes are redirecting to the same Spotify playlist URL, but one of them has many more scans than the other. Guess which one it is.

A designer QR Code is a uniquely customized and branded QR Code. With design options such as colours, patterns, backgrounds, logos and call-to-action frames, you can customize a standout QR Code that represents a brand, campaign or information type. Designer QR Codes are made to help add value to any marketing campaign, improve brand recall and gain interest. Marketing and advertising agents around the world are now creating custom QR Codes for their campaigns and it’s become a growing trend that is not showing any signs of slowing down. QR Codes are great marketing tools and can be used to direct customers to your landing page, encourage them to download apps or send them directly to your online store. A designer QR Code can attract more scans than a plain black-and-white QR Code. 

How can you customize your QR Code?

Use Colors

Coloured QR Code

You can do away with the standard black and white QR Code designs. They get the job done but they hardly make a splash anymore, especially with QR Codes becoming such a ubiquitous part of our everyday lives. People often make an assessment on a product that is based on colour, so it’s important to use this to your advantage.

Adding some color is the simplest way to make a QR Code interesting and grab the attention of a consumer. You can use the colors of your brand campaign or color code certain elements such as the “eyes” – the markers that specify the direction the code is printed. There are many possibilities and you don’t have to choose just one color for your QR Code.

You can play around with the color tab and change colours of the position markers (eyes), use gradients and create fancy multi-color QR Codes.

Colors and Gradients in QR Codes
More colors in QR Codes using different colors for eyes or setting gradients.

Provide enough contrast

QR Code with good and weak contrast

For coloured QR Codes, choose colours for your foreground and background that contrast with each other. A lot of QR reader apps have a hard time reading codes that are too monochromatic or faded.

Some colours might vary after printing as well. Pastel hues can come out lighter than they look on screen. Always pick colours that are distinctly contrasting to make sure your QR Code is scannable.

Be careful with the background

Inverted versus normal QR Code

When the background of a QR Code is darker than the foreground, it’s referred to as an inverted code. While some scanners are able to read an inverted code, there are apps that are unable to scan them. The same goes for transparent backgrounds. If you’re printing your QR Code on a dark poster ensure you have a good colour scheme. It’s recommended to stick with lighter colours for the background and dark colours in the foreground. If you decide to use an inverted code, ensure it’s still scannable.

Embed Images or Logos

Logo in a QR Code

A great way to grab your audience’s attention is to place an image or a logo in the centre of your QR Code. You can use a simple phrase such as “scan me” or a business logo. Graphics and illustrations work better, as anything more detailed can distort and blur once printed. Your image needs to be placed in the centre of the code to avoid blocking any elements which are important to the code’s ability to be scanned. Your image or logo should enhance your code and serve as a purpose to advertise your brand, campaign, QR Code direction or a call-to-action.

The logo should be centered in the QR Code, do not overlap the markers/eyes and may take up to 30% of the surface when selecting level H for error correction. In any case, we recommend running tests with different devices and QR Code readers once you decide what design you are going to use.

Reshape the QR Code

shapes of qr code marker border, marker center and pattern
QR codes consist of marking borders, marking centers and a pixel pattern, that can be changed not only in color but also in shape.

You can get creative and redesign the edges of your QR Code slightly by choosing a different shape for the markers. This is a subtle change, but one that can make your QR Code stand out and look more unique. The edges of your QR Code shouldn’t be completely reshaped, when you have a look at our QR Code generator, you can get an idea of the different ways you can reshape the markers.

Reshape QR Code with different forms
Design patterns for the QR Code pixel

Extreme changes can move away from the QR Codes overall shape which could make it unscannable and unreadable. This means it won’t get as many scans.

The same applies to the marker center and border. Any forms can be used, but please always test whether the combination is legible.

Any combination with a marking edge and a marking center is possible, but not all of them can be read.

Put a Call-to-action under the QR Code

Call-2-Action under QR Code

A code on its own doesn’t do much. It will sit there just waiting for your customers to take action and scan it. You can help to initiate this by telling them exactly what to do and what to expect when they scan your QR Code. The call-to-action can be in the centre of the code as an image or around it if there is already a logo in the middle. Your call-to-action should be engaging and informative as well. Something such as “connect to Wi-Fi” or “Scan to pay” clearly explains what the QR Code is there for.

How to create a designer QR Code

When you have made your free account and created your QR Code, you can now design it how you like.

  1. Head to your QR Code on your user profile, click down the options menu and select design QR.

    How to create a designer QR Code, Instructions

  2. Here you will be taken to a page with three options, basic, designer and transparent. Choose the designer option to customise your QR Code as you like.

    Designer QR Code

  3. Now you are taken to the design page where you have many options to choose from including:
    • Colours
    • Design
    • Logo
    • Frame
    • Options
    • Templates

  4. You can choose the colours for the background of your QR Code and the foreground. It’s very important to use contrasting colours so the code is scannable and stands out too.

    Desginer QR Code - Colors and gradients

  5. Once you’ve chosen the colours it’s now time to choose the design pattern. There are a number of patterns available for you to choose, not just for the code pattern but also for the marker boarder and marker centre. (The markers are there to show you which way the QR Code should be oriented).

    qrcode design shapes markers

  6. Your next step is to decide if you wish to use a logo. The logo will sit in the middle of your design and can help indicate to the user where the QR Code is going to take them. You can choose one from our selection or pick your own.

    Remember: a logo that is too small won’t be seen, but one that is too big will make the QR Code unreadable. You can choose to remove the background behind your logo too so that it doesn’t cover the pattern and looks clean.

    Embed Logos QR Code

  7. The next design element is the frame, which wraps around your QR Code. Often times the frame will help the QR Code to stand out even more and can include a call to action such as “Scan me” or “Download”. There are a few different frames to choose from, plus you can select the text’s size and font, as well as the frame’s colour.Custom your QR Code - Design options - Frames

  8. Once you have chosen all your design elements, under options you can choose the size and the precision. The standard settings of 600 and H-Best are recommended but this does vary depending on the type of QR Code you are creating. The size parameter is only taken into account when you download the QR Code in PNG format. Vector formats do not have a fixed size since the can be scaled to any size. The precision parameter is set to the highest value, when you set a logo inside the QR Code. This ensures that the QR Code stays readable.

  9. The final thing you will see on this page is a set of templates. If you’re struggling to make your design, or simply want one ready-made for you, we have a range of templates. These templates are especially great for social media QR Codes and have been coloured and designed for specific QR Codes such as Facebook, Snapchat, PayPal and PDF.

    These templates are there to provide you with a creative solution that saves time and gives you ideas to create your own.

  10. Now you have your final design chosen, all that’s left to do is download or save your template. You can download your QR Code as a PNG, SVG, PDF or EPS depending on if you want to print your QR Code or use it digitally. You can also save your new QR Code as a template for future use.

    Download QR Code - Save template

    Dowonload QR Code - PNG SVG EPS PDF

Tips for printing your QR Code

Make it stand out

qr code table stand

There are many factors to consider when designing your QR Code, not just for aesthetic reasons but practical ones too. If you’re printing your QR Code it needs to be big enough and clear enough. If it’s not designed properly, it can blur or distort when printed.

You also want your code to stand out on the page it’s intended for. If your QR Code has important information your customers need to know, having it tucked in the back corner of a broacher will pretty much ensure that nobody will scan it. A code that is too small can also be unreadable and we don’t want this either. To increase visibility and the chances of it getting more scans, place your QR Code in the centre of your layout for accessibility and make it as big as possible. Grabbing the customers attention should be your main priority.

Mind the quiet zone

The “quiet zone” refers to the space around the QR Code that enables scanners to differentiate between the code and its surroundings. If the distance between the pixels and the surrounding elements is too small, it will be harder to scan. The general rule is to have a quiet zone that is about four times the width of the black pixels of your QR Code.

Quiet Zone around a QR Code

It’s important to note that when you input a lot of information into a code the pixels get smaller and more complex in order to accommodate for the amount of data. When this occurs, people often make the mistake of reducing the quiet zone perimeter to compensate. This is something you don’t want to do.

Test run

QR Code scan test

With all codes it’s good practice to test whether it works or not. If you are printing out your QR Code, don’t get ahead of yourself and assume the code will work because it looks clear on the screen. It might look great on your phone or computer, but if it hasn’t been designed with the right size recommendations, when printed it might come out blurry. If you use QR Codes to be displayed on screen use the webformat png, if you print QR Codes always use vector formats like pdf, eps or svg. Vector formats ensure that the QR Codes scales as big or as small you want without getting blured.

Print out a test version and see if it scans easily using your phone’s camera or a QR Code reader app.


Why is my designer QR Code not readable?

There are a few crucial mistakes you can make with Designer QR Codes. Too many design elements can cause it to not work. An example would be, if the squares on the QR code were changed to circles and a logo was added onto the code, this could cause it to be unreadable.

There are a number of reasons your QR Code could be unreadable:

  • You’re using an old mobile device with poor camera quality.
  • The QR Code reader app has a bad algorithm to decrypt the QR Codes.
  • Some QR Code readers cannot decode a white QR Code on a black background.
  • The colours have too little contrast with the background.
  • The logo in the QR Code is too big.
  • Your design elements are too complicated.


If you have problems with your designer QR Code:

  • Re-evaluate your design elements and reduce as necessary. 
  • Remove or resize the logo.
  • Make sure there’s enough contrast with your background and foreground colours.

The safest variant that a QR Code can be read by all readers, is the Standard QR Code, or the Transparent QR Code.

The simpler the design, the easier a QR Code can be decrypted. Designer codes are generally a little harder to decode and things such as the scan position, camera angle and how far the camera is from the code matters.

Test, Test, Test

At each design stage, test whether the QR Code is still readable and add each design element as you go.

Also note that not all QR Code readers can decode a designer QR Code equally well. Essentially, you should always test using a smartphone with a poor camera and apps with weak decoding algorithms. If the designer QR Code can still be read, you are on the safe side.

Can I brand my QR Code with my own logo?

Yes, you can directly upload your logo when designing your QR Code. After merging the QR Code with your logo, your QR code can be printed in any size. Ensure you also test the QR Code by scanning it from different apps and devices before going into production to make sure there is no problem with the quality. If you run into issues with this, go back and check the size and quality of your logo image and make sure your design elements aren’t making your QR Code unreadable. Read more here: Embed a logo in a QR Code.

Jordi Hernández

Professional Services Manager at qrd.by


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.