Getting the Most Out of WordPress Jetpack to Improve Your Site

One of the most common issues when deciding between a managed WordPress.com installation and self-hosted WordPress.org option are the plugins. WordPress.com sites come with all kinds of handy features that self-hosted WordPress sites typically don’t have – unless you install Jetpack. 

What is WordPress Jetpack?

Jetpack is a plugin developed by Automattic, the same company that develops WordPress. It is designed to help “bridge the gap” between WordPress.com and WordPress.org by carrying over many of the features of a managed WordPress site. Although Jetpack is often installed on self-hosted WordPress websites by default (especially when you install WordPress through your web host’s control panel), just clicking to activate it doesn’t really do much.

That’s because you need an actual WordPress.com account in order to use it. Fortunately all you need to do is sign up for WordPress.com (it’s free) and plug that information into Jetpack to start enjoying all of the additional features that Jetpack provides. 

What’s Included in WordPress Jetpack?

Think of WordPress Jetpack as a group of “nice to have” features that may help, but to different degrees. You can activate and deactivate different modules as you wish. Some are incredibly helpful and others are just to showcase different items on your site, like social media post likes and such. 

The different modules currently included in WordPress Jetpack are as follows:

  • Carousel – create a full-page slideshow using images from your image gallery
  • Comments – allow users to comment on your blog using Facebook, Twitter or WordPress.com logins.
  • Contact form – add a simple contact form to your pages
  • Custom CSS – add in your own CSS without the need to create a “child theme” or having to worry about your CSS being overwritten when you upgrade your theme.
  • Beautiful Math – for sites that display complex equations, this makes it possible to show them as they should look. 
  • Custom Content Types – Create your own custom content type easily using this simple plugin. No programming or coding needed. 
  • Sidebar Widgets – Include twitter streams, image galleries and RSS links in your sidebar
  • Gravatar Hovercars – Pop up Gravatar cards show as your commenters’ avatar.
  • Infinite Scroll – Made popular by sites like Facebook and Pinterest, this plugin keeps loading more posts as you scroll. 
  • Enhanced Content Distribution – Notifies third party content distribution services whenever you publish a post
  • JSON API – an API for developers that allows them to use OAuth2 authentication and REST API to manage content within WordPress
  • Likes on Posts or Pages – Those users who have a WordPress.com account can give your page or post a “like” similar to Facebook.
  • Manage – Centralize your WordPress.org installations so you can update themes, plugins and so on from one dashboard. 
  • And much more

Currently there are nearly three dozen different modules you can pick and choose from. Some, like VideoPress and VaultPress are premium video and backup/storage for WordPress that have an extra fee associated with them. 

That’s a Lot of Modules! Does It Impact Site Speed in Any Way?

Since modules can be activated and deactivated at will, the deactivated ones aren’t actually loaded into your site in any way, so the only plugins affecting performance are those that you have active and are using at any given time. If you see yourself using several of these plugins, it’s certainly worth it to install Jetpack. 

If you only see yourself using a couple of them, it may be better to install plugins specifically for the purpose or goal you’re looking to achieve. Also, keep in mind that there may be other plugins that offer an advanced way to do what Jetpack does. For instance, there are plenty of robust WordPress gallery plugins as well as contact form plugins that go well beyond the functionality that Jetpack provides. 

Whether or not you decide to use it, it’s worth considering if you just need a few simple features for your blog and don’t want the hassle of multiple plugins cluttering up your space. It’s something that, in a nutshell, you’ll need to evaluate for yourself. For example, the CSS editor that comes with Jetpack queries the database every time you make a change, and this can slow down your site considerably if you do it often. Having a proficient programmer available to advise you in terms of what’s worth installing (and what isn’t) can be invaluable as you work to grow and improve your WordPress website. 

What If I Need Help Maintaining, Managing or Upgrading My WordPress Site?

If you have a self-hosted (WordPress.org) installation and you need help maintaining, managing or upgrading various facets of your site, it’s worth having WPDandy on your side. Our proficient WordPress programmers and coders can help you with all aspects of our WordPress installation, including setting up WordPress, optimizing WordPress, installing or upgrading plugins, working with themes and much more.

We offer all of our customers an intuitive WordPress dashboard administrative area where you can easily chat one on one with your personal developer: a true WordPress expert who is on call and ready to help you with any and all of your WordPress needs for one low monthly fee. 

If you’re thinking about installing WordPress Jetpack, but you need some unbiased, experienced advice to help you determine whether or not this suite of plugins is right for you, reach out to us at WPDandy. We’d be happy to listen to your specific needs and your goals for your website and advise you on whether or not WordPress Jetpack is a solid choice for your needs, or if there may be a better plugin or alternative that does what you want. It takes just one simple call or click to get started, and you’ll have a diligent, professional developer on your side who can help you take your site further. 

Call us today to learn more about our helpful WordPress maintenance and management services. We work with all types of WordPress websites and blogs, and there’s no project to  big or too small for us to handle!