Product Name: Jetpack by WordPress
Product Owner: Automattic (the folks behind WordPress)
Advertised Price: Free
What I like: It’s one plugin that adds a ton of useful features
What I dislike: Some of the features don’t work well while others are resource-intensive
Recommended: Yes, because installing one plugin is easier than installing 20 different ones
What is Jetpack by WordPress?
Jetpack by WordPress is a plugin by the folks behind WordPress itself, Automattic. It brings over 33 features from WordPress.com to self-hosted WordPress sites.
Who is it for?
People who own a WordPress site that is not at WordPress.com. It could be a site that you own, on hosting of your choice, or WordPress sites from a service like Wealthy Affiliate (caveat: WA & other services have issues with plugins that are resource hogs, and some of the Jetpack’s features are; use it at your discretion).
How do you get it?
You can download it at www.jetpack.me or – much easier – install it from WordPress itself, like I show you here:
Connecting to WordPress.com is needed to finish the installation and activate the features, several of which require WordPress.com.
After clicking Connect to WordPress.com you’ll see the window below (left). If you already have a WordPress.com account, login. If not click the Need an account link and create your free WordPress.com account (see below right). There’s an option to sign up for a blog but it’s not necessary.
Once the login or signup to WordPress.com is completed, you’ll be returned to your dashboard and see a new Jetpack option near the top of the left admin menu. Click on Settings to get started.
Is it any good?
The short answer: Yes, it’s good. There are a lot of useful features that you get in one plugin.
The long answer: Not all of the features are useful to everybody and some of them just don’t work that well. The ones that reach out to WordPress.com might put a load on your siteThere’s no reason to use all the features but there are a few that I really really like. Keep reading for my recommendations.
The feature by feature rundown
With 33 features (as of this writing) I won’t be going into deep detail. I’m just going to give a recommendation on whether they’re useful or not. If you want more details on all of the features, go here.
Note: a bunch of features are turned on automatically – check my screenshot to the right for all the features I recommend turning off immediately.
- Beautiful Math: [highlight]Useless[/highlight], unless you need to post mathematical equations
- Carousel: Useful, makes the built-in WordPress galleries gorgeous full-screen experiences
- Contact Form: Useful, a super easy & customizable contact form; can make multiple forms too
- Custom CSS: Useful, if you know CSS but if you turn it off you lose all your edits
- Custom Content Types: Semi-useful, if you need an easy way to make a Portfolio section
- Enhanced Distribution: Semi-useful, if it shares your content like it claims
- Extra Sidebar Widgets: [highlight]Super useful[/highlight], the easiest way to get your Twitter stream & a Facebook Like box onto your site, also lets you add images & galleries in widgets
- Google+ Profile: Semi-useful, to show your Google Plus link with content; I prefer not to have it with every post
- Gravatar Hovercards: [highlight]Useless[/highlight], no one cares about these except the folks behind WordPress
- Infinite Scroll: Semi-useful, if you have a lot of blogs and want people to keep reading
- JSON API: Semi-useful, if you need it (if you don’t know what it is – you don’t need it)
- Jetpack Comments: Useful, lets people comment by using their social media accounts; it’s easier to comment with than Disqus
- Jetpack Single Sign On: [highlight]Useless[/highlight], let’s you login to a site with your WordPress.com account; that also means if your WordPress.com account gets hacked, all of your connected sites will be vulnerable
Likes: [highlight]Useless[/highlight], the only place people look for & use this is on WordPress.com
- Markdown: Semi-useful, if you use it (ignore it if you don’t know what it is)
- Mobile Theme: [highlight]Useless[/highlight], most good themes are responsive now and adapt to mobile devices
- Monitor: Semi-useful, let’s you know if your site is offline but you’ll get a lot of emails (I don’t use it)
- Notifications: Semi-useful, let’s you know about activity on your site but it also shows activity from every site you have it turned on for (too much noise for me)
- Omnisearch: [highlight]Super useful[/highlight], the easiest & best way to search for things on your site (meant for site owners, not visitors)
- Photon: [highlight]Useless[/highlight], it’s supposed to help your site by loading images from their servers but I’ve found that it does not work with many themes
- Post by Email: [highlight]Useless[/highlight], don’t know about you but my goal is to spend less time in email
- Publicize: Useful, let’s you automatically post to most social networks when you publish a post
- Related Posts: Semi-useful, if your theme doesn’t offer related posts and you want them
- Sharing: Useful, the easiest way to add social sharing buttons on your site (I prefer Shareaholic because it includes a floating share bar and Related Posts)
- Shortcode Embeds: Useful, if you need to embed something that is not automatically embedded by WordPress already (like Soundcloud, for example)
- Site Verification: Semi-useful, to verify your site with search engines (a better option is to use WordPress SEO by Yoast)
Spelling and Grammar: [highlight]Useless[/highlight], works but interferes with too many other things
- Subscriptions: Semi-useful, if used for comments (don’t use it to let people follow your site, you should try to get people to sign up to a mailing list instead)
- Tiled Galleries: Semi-useful, if you like the way it looks
- VideoPress: Semi-useful, if you use VideoPress (I use YouTube or Vimeo instead)
- WP.me Shortlinks: [highlight]Useless[/highlight], Twitter, Hootsuite, etc will shrink links automatically and Bit.ly lets you track clicks & stats
- Widget Visibility: [highlight]Super-useful[/highlight], let’s you pick which pages a widget can/can’t appear on
- WordPress.com Stats: Semi-useful, the easiest way to get stats (Google Analytics is more comprehensive and a better choice for businesses)
There you have it – my review of Jetpack by WordPress
It’s an easy way to add a lot of useful features to a self-hosted WordPress website. While there are more features that are utterly useless than super useful, the rest of the features depend on YOUR needs.
What would you rather do – install one plugin or install 30? It’s easier to flip the features on & off than it is to install and manage 30 more plugins.