Barcodes are often the last thing considered in label design, but they shouldn't be. Barcodes play a key role in the salability of your product. Here are four tips to help you design a better barcode:
Barcode scanning works by shinning an infrared light at the symbol. The black lines absorb the light and the whites spaces reflect the light. Based on the light that gets reflected back the scanner is able to determine what the barcode means.
When printing a barcode, contrast between these two colors needs to be clearly defined. An ideal prinking would be black, carbon based ink on white matte material, but other combinations of ink and label can also yield positive results. The key is to ensure that the is at least a 50 percent contrast between the light reflectance of the bars and the background.
The opacity of the label media needs to be able to reflect a sufficient amount of light back at the scanner. If a dark background is visible through the label, the scanner may either misread or not be able to pickup the barcode at all.
Some modern trends in barcode labeling include changing the colors from something other than the traditional black bars on white background design. There are other combinations that can work, but you have to be careful when selecting the new colors.
Light colors with reds and yellows, such as yellow or pink, can be a good substitute for the background. Any colors with blue content tend to absorb more light, so use them for the bar itself, not the label. That being said, if the color combinations don't look aesthetically pleasing, using black and white is always a safe bet.
When designing a barcode, know where your product is going to be sold.
Bars can either oriented horizontally or vertically. Horizontal barcodes tend to be more difficult to read except with the use of light pens, as the bar go with the natural sweep of the hand. For other readers, stick with a vertical orientation.
Hand scanning typically done in arching motions, not straight lines. As such, the height of the code is important for readability. Codes should be at least a quarter of an inch tall or 15 percent of the length of the barcode, whichever is greater. Typical UPC or EAN barcodes are just over an inch tall.
No matter what you do, you have to account for situations when scanners aren't working. Always include an alphanumeric printout of the barcode, so that the cashier can enter it by hand as needed. A good rule of thumb is to make this the same color as the bars, as differing colors may through off the scanner.
Human interaction with our product is critical. If your barcode is prone to miss-scans, employees will be less likely to recommend your product, as they will not want to deal with the hassle of ringing it up afterwards. Before finalizing your label, make sure to test the barcodes to ensure readability. When testing, a general rule of thumb is to have first read rate of over 85 percent and a second attempt read rate of at least 95 percent. Anything less than that and you should redesign the barcode.
Contact us today to learn more about the benefits of taking your company's barcode labeling strategy and design into your own hands. We sell color label printers and other necessities for implementing a strategy that gets people talking about your fantastic label designs.