The main objection to software

There are some objections to using software for Bible study. Here are a few common objections, followed by the one that I think is the most difficult objection.

Too expensive

The professional-level software programs are pretty expensive. Without seeing the benefits of using the software it might be hard to justify spending over $1000 for a software program. This is a bigger problem for Bible students in some countries outside the United States.

Hardware incompatibility

Most software now runs on both Mac and PC, so this problem isn’t as big as it used to be. Now the problem has shifted to whether the program will run on a mobile device or not. The mobile apps for professional-level software usually do not have the full set of features, so this could be a problem for someone who wants all the bells and whistles to work on their mobile device.

Resources missing

What can you do if the text, or lexicon, or other needed resource isn’t available in your software program? Perhaps it isn’t available electronically at all? This can be a problem for some people, though this is becoming less of a problem as publishers produce more electronic titles. Usually software programs have a reasonable substitute and may even have resources or program features that work better than the desired resource.

Too hard to read on a screen

Some people do not like to read on a screen. The resolution is not as high as reading a printed book. There is also a question whether information retention when reading on a screen is as high as when reading a printed book. However, some people like to read on a screen because it is possible to increase the size of fonts. This is a great benefit for older readers.

Too difficult to use

The main objection that I have observed is that software is too difficult to use. Many people struggle with even the most basic concepts of using software. People buy software costing hundreds of dollars and only use the software to copy and paste text into a Word document, or to read a few commentaries.  They do not know how to use the best features of their software, the features that can really make a difference in their interpretation of the Bible.

Users like it when new features are added to their software program. But the problem with adding new program features is that the software becomes more complex. If all of the features are listed on buttons and menus the software interface becomes too crowded. If the features can only be accessed by knowing a special command to be entered on a command line, the user won’t know the feature is available.

And forget about requiring a user to read a help file or watch a video for help. Most users don’t read them, and they don’t watch training videos. Software is supposed to make Bible study easier and faster, not more difficult and slower.

Key points

Unless the software is intuitive users won’t use the available features. It doesn’t matter what new features you add if people can’t use it. If you need to read a help file to use it, it is too difficult for most people. Software companies need to make their products easier to use. The professional-level products are the ones needing the most work, as they have the most features.

In my opinion the professional-level software programs are trying to do too much. They want their program to meet the needs of every user. They have too many different types of documents, too many features, and too many options. Most users can’t cope with the complexity. It is time for a next-generation of Bible software that is easy to use and easy for the user to configure for more advanced features.

While software programs continue making their software easier to use, Bible software users should devote some time learning how to use the many features in their software program. We spend time learning how to use a printed concordance, Bible dictionaries, lexicons, and learning Greek and Hebrew. A software program is another tool that we need to learn how to use, as well.


2 thoughts on “The main objection to software

  1. Ervin Starwalt

    Glenn, Good post. I typically under-utilize the Bible software I use. On the other hand, the software makes my life much easier, doing text analysis and teaching students about the Greek text. But the points you make are well taken.

    Ervin Starwalt
    teaching at Dallas International University (formerly Graduate Institute of Applied Linguistics)


  2. I take special interest in your statement that “Unless the software is intuitive users won’t use the available features.” Indeed, from my observations over the past 20 years, one of the hallmarks of most Bible software programs for Windows is poor user interface design. Rarely can you describe a Bible software program for Windows as “intuitive” when it comes to UI.

    Today there is an expectation for a simple interface. Just take a look at the “Google” search engine to see what I mean. People expect “searching” for anything to be much like what they’ve come to expect from a Google search. This matter of poor UI with Bible software and the expectation of “Googlers” is why inWORD Bible software was developed. I was part of the development team behind this software project, and we’ve tried to address almost all of the “reasons” you’ve identified in your excellent blog posting. The software is definitely worth checking out.

    inWORD Bible


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s