I see more and more QR Codes like this:


More such codes can be found if I try "Google Image Search" by "QR code china" or "QR code chinese" (but not just "QR code").

For me it looks ugly:

  1. It does not mix well with pixel-artish QR Code;
  2. The resulting code feels like a "spoiled thing", less likely to be recognized by reader, with a weakened redundancy margin, like a scratched CD disk;

Why do them put a picture in the center?

  • If putting things into a 2D code is important, will the new 2D "ring code" appear, with a dedicated empty space in the center?
    – anonymous
    Feb 23, 2015 at 0:10
  • Looks like similar thing is already done, i.e. there can be a safe way of putting images into QR code.
    – anonymous
    Feb 23, 2015 at 0:19
  • 2
    Because marketing, probably. Please don't follow this trend. As the article in anonymous' comment says: "QR codes have up to a 30% error correction redundancy built into them [...] While it is possible to add an image inside the the QR code, reducing this safety buffer moves the QR code closer to the point where it becomes potentially unstable"
    – Tom
    Feb 23, 2015 at 10:53
  • The same article also says that you can make a correct QR code with a while block in the center, then put light-toned image there, so it would have minimal effect to the QR code mechanics.
    – anonymous
    Feb 23, 2015 at 13:39
  • You could remove the airbags of a car and you'll still be able to drive around. However, when something goes wrong, having airbags is quite nice ;)
    – Tom
    Feb 23, 2015 at 14:24

1 Answer 1


Why do them put a picture in the center?

  1. Because of usability

    It enables you to see directly for which purpose this QR Code is intended. A QR Code can contian any kind of data,not URL's only!

  2. Because of trustability

    Usually QR Code readers haven't any machanism of pre-check the scanned information. That means scanning an URL directs you insteantly to that website. This site can contain viruses.

  3. Because of marketing

    It pops into your eye.

  4. Because of marketing

    You see the app icon of your app. At point-of-sale one can see the dedicated app to shop with here.

It might look ugly - could made better looking. But this is best practice!

As noted in the comments, embedding pic into Qr-Code does harm the detection rate and the correction rate. This is not correct! It doesn't harm detection rate! if you make it correctly. Inormation in QR coes are put into code blocks, which you can see in the picture. If one embeds the image into this code blocks everthing will work fine. It actually enforces a quite larger Qr-Code in terms of pixels (or called version).

Correction rate depends on how often one repeat the information in the Qr-Code. If you go up to 30%, this means you put same information blocks very often into the Qr-Code. If parts of the Qr-Code is destroyed or covered, the reader might read missed information in a doubled info block somewhere on the Qr-Code. A high correction rate enforces a quite larger Qr-Code (version) as well.

Technical illustration

enter image description here Source: Wikipedia

  • 1
    I don't understand your #2 "Because of trustability". A QR code can work around the image (because of the error recovery) and you get to the web site, or it cannot, and then the QR code does nothing at all. It has nothing to do with what is on the web site.
    – Jongware
    Feb 23, 2015 at 13:44
  • @jongware: Without a picture you cannot know what kind of information the Qr-Code contain. It might be a URL or a product information for a checkout app. But you as a user don't know - you have no certainity if you can trust this Qr-Code/ this information. The user asks oneself: What happens if I scan it?
    – FrankL
    Feb 23, 2015 at 14:20
  • But isn't that always the case? Seeing a Microsoft logo inside a QR code does not automatically mean it's trustworthy. (Possibly/Cynically, I just may have suggested a golden idea to those same scammers...)
    – Jongware
    Feb 23, 2015 at 14:41
  • I guess an example would be - if you had a QR code on a poster advertising a film out on DVD, if the QR code contained a 'play' icon you'd understand that it'll play a trailer, if it contains a shopping cart icon you'll understand it'll take you to buy the DVD, etc? Feb 23, 2015 at 14:44
  • 1
    @jongware Of course one can misuse everything, but originally a Microsoft logo is thrustworthy. In combination with holography it isnt easy to replicate. Holography and Qr-Code is used for expensive medicals - for track and trace the supply chain origins. The Qr-Code contains a unique identifier.
    – FrankL
    Feb 23, 2015 at 15:18

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