Someone looking to hire invited me to a meet and greet next week. The invitation suggested that I bring business cards. Since I don't currently have any, and there's no time like the present, I decided to design my own today. As I am pleased with the result, I thought I'd share.
Step 1: Decide Which Information You Wish to Share.
My goals for my business card were:
- do something different, to get noticed, in a good way, at the meet & greet and future similar situations
- make it easy for people I meet to follow up with me. IMO normal people don't enjoy thumbing contact information into their phones. The easier I make it, the more likely they are to save my contact information, a necessary step for them to follow up with me.
- brand myself as a professional, with a professional looking card
- give, that I may receive. The gift is useful knowledge to whoever receives my card.
- spend as little as possible
I decided to share my contact information and my public (encryption) key.
Step 2: Choose a Card Design That Will Look Good With QR Codes on It.
I browsed through various card designs at print.staples.com. I was looking for a design that would fit at least two QR codes, one for my MECARD format phone contact, and another for my public (encryption) key, which is 11:2f:bd:07:ab:cc:67:13:4a:09:f8:fd:6c:91:cc:d9 .
I found a design that would fit three QR codes nicely, and decided to use the third spot for my LinkedIn profile URL.
Step 3: Encode the Information You Wish to Share Into QR Codes.
I used this site to encode my QR codes. It's associated with the ZXing (Zebra Crossing) project. You can find other QR encoders on the Internet, or find and install software to do that, but this outfit seems fairly straight up and I don't think they collect or plan to abuse my contact information. Some other outfits seem a bit dodgier.
The first QR code is my MECARD format contact (you can also choose vCard format). The other two QR codes are my Linkedin profile URL and public key.
When encoding your QR codes, be sure to set the Barcode size field to Large. If you choose smaller sizes, they will appear unnecessarily fuzzy on your card.
Step 4: Test Scan Your Codes, Using a QR Scanner App.
I used the QR Scanner app on my Ipod Touch, which is a 4th or 5th generation Ipod, with a camera. There are similar types of barcode scanner apps for other devices (Android, Ipads, etc.). I had to try a few different apps before I found one that worked consistently.
**UPDATE, Monday, April 28th**
QR Scanner was able to scan all three QR codes when I displayed the codes on my laptop screen, as a pre-publishing test. QR Scanner wouldn't scan one QR code from the (admittedly smaller, non-backlit) images on the actual cards.
When I picked up my cards yesterday, I was not able to scan the leftmost, most complex QR code using QR Scanner. I tried many different free QR code/barcode scanner apps. Most couldn't handle the leftmost QR code.
Three iPhone/iPod Touch apps that will scan that more complex QR code are i-nigma, Leitor Neo, and NeoReader.
Step 5: Design Your Card With Your (working) QR Codes.
You tested your QR codes, right?
Design and order your new business cards.
When you pick up your cards, you might want to test them with your scanner app before you pay for the cards. Be sure you can scan your QR codes before you give them to people you hope to impress. Familiarize yourself with the process of creation so that you can explain how you designed your new nerdy business cards.