Yesterday Carl Hancock (@carlhancock) asked the question on twitter of whether or not he should rename Gravity Forms “Add-Ons” to “Extensions.” Here is the actual tweet:
Although my first thought was whether or not he was charging for the item, I started to think more about what it meant then names extension and add-on mean to me. As a marketer, my thoughts quickly shifted to an actual physical product and how it relates extensions and add-ons.
Physical Product Comparison
For our example, let’s use the various models of a Honda Civic Coupe. The Civic starts at its very base as the DX model. This model includes all the basic feature of a modern automobile (air bags, ABS, tire pressure monitors, et cetera). A step up from the DX model is the LX model which extends upon the features of the DX model by providing extra options (USB Audio Interface, Air Conditioning with Air-Filtration System, et cetera) included within the core features of that model.
The Civic goes even further to provide two more models (EX & EX-L) which extend more upon the base model (DX) by providing even more options within its core. So, in my opinion, extensions are found within the core product and add value that most customers are willing to pay extra for if they desire those feature.
In contrast, add-ons are features not included within the core product. Expanding on our above example, one can easily find add-ons for the Honda Civic. These add-ons can be provided by the core company (Honda), or by external companies. For example, just think of all the accessories (body kits, stylish hoods, nitrous, et cetera) that one can purchase and add-on to the Civic. These add-ons not only change the value of the car, but can also give it better performance and style.
Relation to Digital Products
How does all this relate to digital products like WordPress themes or plugins? After all, physical and digital products are not one and the same. However, the promotion and features of physical and digital products can be comparable. Expanding on out above example of the Civic, let’s say we have a digital product and included in the product are various features that not every customer will find useful. Features that could possibly be considered extensions, as long as they are included within the core product.
If something is not going to be included within the core product, it should be considered an add-on. Why? Because it requires some extra work or activation by the consumer. In essence, the user is required to make and additional (add-on) effort to use the product.
To sum up, an extension is something within the core product (even if there are several models of the product) and an add-on is something that requires and additional effort from the customer in order to use. Although these thoughts are merely opinions, this is how I view the use of extensions and add-ons work in the digital realm. I am sure that everyone has a different opinion and I am anxious to hear yours.