Versus is a tiny website that does a tiny thing, and it does it very well. Enter a product or service — or anything at all — and Versus will tell you the alternatives.
Search for Photoshop, and you’ll get comparable Adobe products Lightroom and Illustrator, and the competitors Gimp, Affinity, Procreate, Krita and Pixlr. It’s useful if you frequently want alternatives to an expensive product or service — especially if you turn Versus into one of your browser’s built-in search engines.
I have a few go-to sites when I’m looking for information on products I’m interested in buying, like the Wirecutter, the Strategist and Amazon comments (though you’ll have to be careful there).
Behind the scenes, Versus simply Googles your search term plus “vs”, and sees what Google wants to autocomplete with. Instead of giving you full Google results with snippets, it returns a clean list of the suggested words and phrases, so you can quickly skim. You can click through any result for a Google search of just that word or phrase.
The best way to use Versus is to build it into your browser. In Chrome, open your settings (cmd-, or ctrl-,) and search for “manage search engines” and click the highlighted option of the same name. Find the “Add” button. Fill out the menu like this:
Hit save. Now you can type “vs” in your address bar, hit space, and enter whatever you want to search. So type “vs Dropbox” and you’ll get the Versus list: Google Drive, iCloud, Box, OneDrive and Sharepoint. Type “vs Dyson” and get Shark, Bissell, Miele, Molekule, Hoover and Kirby. Type “vs Duolingo” and get Rosetta Stone, Babbel, Memrise, LingoDeer and Mango.
You can search anything at all, but this method works better for products and services than for anything else. I tried to find new music with it, but that only really works for certain popular bands that get compared to each other a lot, such as Pink Floyd vs Queen or the Beatles — not exactly undiscovered alternatives. Taylor Swift returns Beyoncé, Kim Kardashian, Kanye West, Spotify and Treadmill.
But if you’re ever trying to remember a word or a concept, and you know at least one wrong answer, it’s great. You can look for Slovenia and get Slovakia, or look for Al Pacino and get Robert De Niro, or look for ambivalent and get equivocal, or look for measles and get rubella. We don’t recommend getting rubella.