On its own, a stock WordPress installation brings with it a ton of functionality. It can power everything from blogs to forum sites to e-commerce portals without breaking a sweat. Still, there are a number of features present in the WordPress.com service not found in the self-hosted WordPress software. The Jetpack plugin is aimed at users that want those extra features without having to install dozens of additional plugins and manage their behavior through separate settings panels.
What Is Jetpack?
In a nutshell, Jetpack is what’s known as a “meta plugin” that delivers a variety of enhancements to any WordPress site. Jetpack bills itself as a way to bring the “the awesome cloud power of WordPress.com” to self-hosted WordPress installations. Most of the features of Jetpack are aimed at making site management a lot easier and empowering webmasters to improve their domains. The general idea is to replicate the features of multiple third-party plugins using one simple add-on.
Features and Functionality
Many of Jetpack’s capabilities revolve around enhancing site layouts and functionality. For instance, the Carousel feature allows for full-page web galleries. In addition, the Contact Form feature enables simple yet powerful commenting while screening for spam. There’s also Markdown, which makes crafting rich posts with a variety of media types a breeze. Last but certainly not least, Omnisearch uses WordPress.com’s advanced search software to index and categorize your site’s content for rapid in-depth site searches.
Jetpack also makes it easy for novice webmasters to improve their sites using detailed analytics in the form of WP Stats. Those that opt for the plugin get access to the robust Photon image CDN, which can seriously ramp up site speed. There are also a number of productivity tweaks like the inclusion of WP.me Shortlinks and Shortcode Embeds. For those that rely on social media to promote their content, Jetpack comes with features like Sharing, Enhanced Distribution and Publicize.
To Jetpack or Not to Jetpack
Ultimately, this handy plugin has a lot going for it and is 100% free to use. While it can make life easier for many webmasters, there are a few caveats to consider before installing it. For one thing, it can actually slow down your site if you enable every feature. Furthermore, use of Jetpack requires a free WordPress.com account. If you don’t mind manually disabling features that you don’t need, Jetpack can do a lot for your site.