If you are running a website on WordPress.org then you have most likely come across the Jetpack Plugin. A lot of people newer to WordPress often wonder just what it is, and what you can do with it. It’s an expansive plugin that currently has 36 modules with different functions. Jetpack makes running your blog a lot easier. You can use jetpack to handle a lot of functionality on your site like contact forms, analytics, cloud, comments and more. This guide will explain how you to use Jetpack and we what each modules does.
Jetpack was created by the makers of WordPress and has improved leaps and bounds in the last few years. The first thing I used to do when I installed a new blog was deactivate jetpack, mostly because I use cheap hosting and it can slow things down if you are running too many modules on every page. Nowadays loading time isn’t much of a problem at all. You can choose to leave all the modules you want off. Upon installation of your site, or when you add Jetpack (see adding plugins and themes), you’ll see a screen letting you toggle the most popular modules on and off.
*click the button highlighted above to look at all the modules
How to turn modules on or off
Upon activating the plugin most of the modules will already be on. First you will want to turn off all of the ones you don’t need to keep page loading times down. From the Settings panel you can deactivate or activate different modules. Open the Active tab and use bulk actions to deactivate the modules. Check all the functions you don’t want and deactivate with bulk actions as shown below. Click the apply button once you have selected them.
Which Jetpack modules should I use?
There are 36 and I like to use only a few of them on most sites. Below I will go through some of my favorites, and at the end of the article we’ll briefly touch upon the ones I didn’t go over.
It should be noted that this module doesn’t work with all themes. Check with your theme’s support team or the documentation to see if it works. I use this with enfold and it’s pretty handy. The comments module allows your visitors to make comments with a WordPress, Twitter or Facebook account. It makes commenting easier. Without a comments plugin readers would have to enter their name and email address. Making things as quick as possible is always a good move.
Jetpack’s contact form is simple and lightweight. When you activate it you can add a contact form on the screen with the click of a button. You can edit fields, add your own, delete fields and insert the form into any post or page.
This module has been updated recently and looks really awesome now. It also loads fast too. Build galleries that visitors can scroll through by clicking. If don’t have the carousel module turned on, every image clicked will open a new page.
Extra Sidebar Widgets
Use this module to put more widgets on your sidebar without having to code it in. Say you wanted to put an image in the sidebar. Normally you’d need to add HTML to link the file to the code along with the attributes specifying the size and behavior of the image. With the extra sidebar widget you can just drag and drop the image you want. You can use it add galleries, generate dynamic content (such as posts based on categories), Facebook like boxes, Twitter timelines and more.
With this module you can add sharing icons at the end of your posts or pages. Right now you can let readers share with Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, Stumbleupon, Reddit, Email and others. Add sharing buttons, icons or text. This module also has a counter so you can keep track and/or show the number of shares.
This module provides some really basic stats that can be useful. Google analytics can be pretty confusing. If you aren’t ready to tackle Google Analytics or just don’t need to, use this module. WordPress.com stats is simple to use and easy to understand. The script loads just as fast as Google analytics and is way more convenient. Just open your dashboard and you’ll see some stats like how many links visitors clicked on your site, where your traffic is coming from, top posts and pages, subscriptions and clicks.
I probably use shortcodes more than anything on my posts. This handy plugin creates shortcuts you can paste that handle more complex pieces of code. It’s the same exact thing as embedding a video or RSS feed. A good example is when you embed a podcast from SoundCloud. You click the share button and you will get a short link for the player. Shortcodes are the same. They offer you ways to embed media like buttons and videos into your blog. Just add brackets and the code and that’s all there is to it.
This module will clean up your URLS. Sharing long links can looks messy and become an eyesore. Wp.me Shortlinks can give you a custom URL button in the edit area for all your posts.
A big part of building your readership is getting subscriptions. You can use Mailchimp or other plugins to build your email list. If not try out Jetpacks subscriptions. It’s not hard to use and it’s lightweight. You can add it to any page or post on your site. Your subscribers will also show up on the stats area.
If you have a lot of widgets in your sidebar, you can use this module to control the display. This is very helpful for customizing your pages and posts. This way you can choose which widgets you want to show or hide.
The modules I just mentioned are mainly what I’ve found useful for my blogs. There are still 26 more that you might want to check out. I will go through each one of them real quick.
- Beautiful Math — If you like math you’ll love this. It makes use of Latex, a markup language that allows you to write mathematical equations, formulas and more.
- Custom CSS — Most themes will already have this, but if you want you can use this module to add your own CSS changes without using a child theme.
- Custom Content Types — Use this to display different types of content on your site like Portfolios, Testimonials. This adds a directory to your site. For example “:http://mywebsite.com/portfolio/”
- Enhanced Distribution — This allows you to instantly share content from your blog to search engines and other users.
- Gravatar Hovercards — This module will can add user information when you hover over an avatar.
- Infinite Scroll — This is handy for product pages and adds a trendy feel to your site. If your theme allows infinite scroll you can enable it so users won’t have to load new pages to see new content.
- JSON API — Get new functionality by connecting other applications and services to your blog with a secure connection.
- Likes — This is not for Facebook. WordPress.com has it’s own like system that you can enable.
- Manage — Enabling this allows you update all your WordPress sites in one dashboard
- Markdown — You can write rich text without having to code or use shortcuts.
- Mobile Theme — If you don’t have a mobile them you can quickly create one with the mobile theme module.
- Monitor — When you enable the monitor module, Jetpack will check your site every 5 minutes and notifies you if there is any down time.
- Notifications — Get notifications when you are logged into WordPress or on your mobile. Use it to hear about news, comments, stats and more.
- Omnisearch — Add a search box to your WordPress admin to search through your content.
- Photon — This is an image caching plugin that boosts image load time.
- Post by Email — Post new articles to your blog through email.
- Protect — Block malicious IPs and track failed login attempts.
- Publicize — Connects your site to popular social networking sites. Share posts with Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Yahoo! and Linkedin.
- Related Posts — Finds posts most relevant to an article and shows them underneath it. It’s very lightweight.
- Single Sign On — Connect with WordPress.com’s single login system so users can comment and interact on your site without signing in.
- Site Verification — Verify your site with Twitter, Google, Pinterest and Bing to use advanced features.
- Spelling and Grammar — Uses a proofreading service called After the Deadline to check your articles for spelling and grammar errors.
- Google Integration — This adds a direct link to your Google+ profile under blog articles.
- Tiled Galleries — Create some nice looking magazine style layouts for photos without coding.
- VideoPress — A paid service that lets you upload videos to WordPress.com and display them on your website.
- VaultPress — A backup service that runs on the same infrastructure as WordPress.com
Bringing it all Together
There are a lot of essential tools contained in the Jetpack bundle. It’s got everything you need to run an awesome blog for free. There’s only two plugins in the bunch that you have to pay for. Nowadays Jetpack’s loading time really isn’t an issue like used to be. If you have a lower tier hosting plan you should monitor some of the modules to make sure it doesn’t affect loading time. Make sure and deactivate any of the modules you aren’t using and you should be fine.