Business cards and QRcodes

Still on the same line of thought as my previous post, I was designing my 名刺 – well, more of outsourcing the design to my brother – and had a hard time with QRcodes that might be interesting to some people.

my meishi

So I wanted my business card to have the classic human readable info on one side, and machine readable on the other. Not so impressive in Japan where QRcodes are everywhere but I like it.

So I did a little reasearch and hit a pot-hole: there is no universal QRcode vCard equivalent standard. As explained here, DoCoMo and SoftBank/au each have their format which are not cross-compatible. So you have 2 solutions:

  1. Make your code a URL link to a .vcf file on your website. Has the advantage that you can change the data without reprinting the cards, adapt the file format to the phone via referer checking and log access (I’d love to see business card conversions in my Google Analytics stats). Downside is conversion is not as easy and you’re not sure if the phone will be able to read the vCard file.
  2. Combine the 2 vCard-like formats in a single QRcode. No stats, but this will work in all phones if you follow my instructions.

I’ve looked into the second solutions and found out by testing that you can combine the 2 formats in one QRcode but only if you put the Softbank/au type first. I guess it cannot have any characters (even a linefeed) before the MEMORY: tag. Then you can use a line of dashes to separate the 2 and make it more easily readable. The end result should look like that:

MEMORY:
NAME1:Doe John
MAIL1:john.doe@softbank.ne.jp
MAIL2:john@doe.com
TEL1:+818036542234
------------------
MECARD:N:Doe John;TEL:+818036542234;EMAIL:john.doe@softbank.ne.jp;EMAIL:john@doe.com;;

Paste that into a QRcode generator and you will get a nice PNG image like this:

QRcode vCard for John Doe

I’ve tested it in 3-4 keitais and it worked nicely. Try it with your phone and tell me the results.

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