What’s the difference between static and dynamic QR codes?

Static QR codes can’t be changed once they’re created, whereas dynamic QR codes allow you to update the scan destination after they have been created and printed.

Dynamic QR codes come in handy when mistakes are made and situations change. They also let you do more advanced things like track how often your codes have been scanned or automatically change the scan destination based on things like the time it was scanned, where it was scanned from etc.

Although the extra features are super useful in some cases, the fact that you can change the scan destination of dynamic QR codes is the most important difference.

How do Dynamic QR codes work?

Static and dynamic QR codes are essentially the same, except instead of pointing directly to the intended destination, dynamic codes point to an intermediary link that can then redirect you to the intended destination.

A graphic showing the difference between a static and dynamic QR code (static goes directly to the scan destination, while dynamic goes via a redirect link)

Dynamic QR code generators create the intermediary links behind the scenes and provide you with an interface that lets you change the QR code destinations.

Other than making your QR codes editable, it’s the intermediary links that allow you to do things like track how many times your codes are scanned and direct scans to different destinations based on time/location.

Again, all of this happens behind the scenes. When you use a QR code generator, you won’t notice much difference when generating static or dynamic QR codes.

When to use static codes

Although dynamic codes offer more flexibility, static codes do have their place. For example, QR codes that let people easily connect to WiFi networks are static and can’t be changed once created.

If you’re creating QR codes that you’re sure won’t need to be updated and you don’t need features like analytics, then there’s nothing wrong with using static codes.

Another thing to consider is cost. Static codes are usually free to create (or close to free). Depending on your usage, dynamic code generators tend to require a subscription or some sort of payment.

The benefits of using dynamic QR codes

We mentioned that the main benefit of dynamic QR codes is that you can change their destination after they’ve been created and printed, but they do offer more.

Tracking is a hugely useful feature that’s possible with dynamic codes. If you’re using QR codes on marketing materials, knowing if people are scanning your codes, how often, which one is being scanned more, etc is super helpful. These are the types of insights you can gain from dynamic QR codes.

They also allow for dynamic scan destinations based on certain traits. For example, you could set up a code to scan to a breakfast menu in the morning and a dinner menu in the evening.

Another practical example is to use them to direct people who scan from an iPhone to an app listing on the App Store, while sending Android users to the Play Store.

How to create dynamic QR codes

Creating dynamic codes is very much like creating static ones. You just need to find a QR code generator that supports dynamic codes and make sure you’re using the dynamic option.

Hovercode (that's us!) uses dynamic QR codes by default.

How to change the destination of QR codes

Once you’ve created your code, your QR code generator will offer an interface that lets you edit the scan destination. This usually involves signing up and creating an account with the service.

Here’s how QR code destination changing looks in Hovercode:

How much does it cost to create dynamic QR codes?

Creating static codes is usually free, but because dynamic codes involve more advanced features like editing and tracking, they usually require a subscription. Most services let you create a small amount of dynamic codes for free to get started with.

Prices range from ~$6 per month for small businesses all the way up to hundreds per month for enterprises that need to create high volumes of QR codes that will be scanned thousands of times.

Hovercode is totally free right now as we’re just getting started, but we will eventually offer paid plans for brands that want more advanced features.

If your use case for QR codes is basic and you don’t need features like editing and tracking, there’s no harm in using a static code, especially if you’re not worried about needing to change the scan destination in the future.

If you might need to change your QR code destination or would benefit from the more advanced features, dynamic is the way to go.