The other day, someone on our forums suggested that we split the Accordance search entry box into two: one for searching by verses and the other for searching by words. He explained, “This would avoid having to drop down the ‘Verses/Words’ option each time, as I find myself about 50/50 as to which I use.”

It’s funny how something as simple as choosing between a word search and a verse search, repeated over and over again, can start to feel burdensome. Over the past 20-plus years of development, we have changed the interface for making that choice numerous times, all in an attempt to make it as effortless as possible.

Before I go into some of the ways Accordance tries to streamline that process for you, let me deal briefly with the suggestion to split the search field into two fields with distinct functions. While this may seem a simple solution at first, two fields mean more visual clutter and more potential confusion for the user. If you accidentally entered a word search in the verse search field, Accordance would have to present you with an error message, which you would then have to dismiss, so that you could then enter your search in the correct place. And what if you entered something in both fields? Which search should Accordance perform when you press Return?

This is just a glimpse into why interface design can be so tricky. What may be obvious to one user may be mystifying to another, and every potential solution can have its unintended drawbacks.

Words-Verses1 The basic interface we’ve settled on is pretty simple to grasp: a token inside the search entry box lets you choose whether you want to search by words or by verses. But removing your hands from the keyboard to mouse over that token every other search is a hassle, so we use the following techniques to streamline things:

1. Automatic Switching Between Words and Verses: In most cases, you don’t need to specify whether you’re searching by words or by verses. If Accordance can tell what you intend, it will automatically switch to the correct type of search. For example, if you enter a word that is not the name of a book (like “Moses,” for example), Accordance will automatically switch to searching by Words. If you enter an obvious verse reference (like “Romans 5”), Accordance will automatically search by Verses. No muss, no fuss.

Words-Verses2 2. Quick Entry Suggestions: If you enter something like “Mark,” which could refer to the Biblical book, the proper name “Mark,” or the word “mark,” Accordance cannot be sure whether you intend to search by Verses or by Words. Yet as you type, the Quick Entry dropdown gives a list of matching book names and words. Simply arrow key up or down to select the book name or word you want to search for, and Accordance will search by Verses or Words accordingly.

3. Keyboard Shortcut: You can always use the keyboard shortcut command-semicolon (on Mac) or control-semicolon (on Windows) to toggle between Words and Verses. For example, let’s say you quickly enter Mark and hit Return, effectively missing the opportunity to use the Quick Entry help mentioned above. Because Accordance was already set to Words, it does a word search for “mark,” but you wanted to go to the book of Mark. Simply use the keyboard shortcut to switch to Verses and hit Return to get the result you want.

Words-Verses3 4. Use the Go To Box for simple verse navigation: I know I said above that there are problems with the idea of using distinct search fields for each kind of search, but here’s a little secret: Accordance has always had a second field for quickly navigating to a given verse. It’s called the Go To Box and it’s in the bottom right corner of the Search window. If you just want to jump to a particular verse, simply hit the Tab key twice to select the Go To Box, enter the desired verse, and hit Return. This is not technically performing a new search, but simply navigating to a new verse in the results of your current search. Nevertheless, for those who want a distinct way to get to particular verse, using the Go To Box may be a quick and easy solution.

As I said above, interface design is tricky, even when it comes to something as simple as choosing which type of search to perform. By knowing these few tricks, you can easily avoid having to mouse over that Words/Verses token ever again.