While for many specialized tasks you need a specific tool, learning how to use and manage those tools can be a burden. Sometimes you just need a tool that does everything. Jetpack is such a tool for your WordPress site. While there are specific plugins that handle social sharing, commenting, analytics and more, Jetpack handles all of that and more.
What is Jetpack?
Jetpack is a WordPress plugin developed by Automattic (the company that created WordPress and runs WordPress.com) to provide for self-hosted WordPress sites the functionality that comes standard with WordPress.com sites. In order to use Jetpack on your self-hosted WordPress site, you’ll need to create an account on WordPress.com. You don’t have to start a blog, you just have to create an account. This account will allow you to log in to all of Automattic’s various endeavors, from Akismet to Polldaddy.
Whereas most plugins focus on one aspect of blogging, Automattic created Jetpack to help self-hosted site owners add all of the non-authoring functionality of WordPress.com to their own sites. For a complete list with descriptions of the different functions of Jetpack, check out the About Jetpack page, but here is a summary of what it does.
Jetpack allows you to use the analytics system of WordPress.com on your own website. If you don’t want to use Google Analytics or you want to have a second system in place to make sure your stats are correct, you can tie into the analytics capabilities of WordPress.com.
Jetpack makes it easy to connect your website to your social media properties, including Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. Your visitors will find it easy to like and share the content on your website with the integrated sharing options. Jetpack also makes it easy for you to set up functionality to automatically tweet and post your new content to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, LinkedIn and more. Visitors to your site will also be able to subscribe to get email notifications when new content is added to your site.
The commenting system in Jetpack allows site visitors to use their Facebook, Twitter or WordPress.com accounts to sign in to leave comments. It allows you to add security to your blog commenting system without requiring visitors to create an account on your website.
Jetpack allows you to edit the code (CSS) of your theme without having to make changes to the source code. It also allows you to turn on infinite scroll for your home page and archive pages. Jetpack includes widgets to display your Twitter feed, an RSS feed or images in the sidebar, as well as functionality to display widgets only on the pages you choose. It includes options for tiled image galleries and an image carousel.
Jetpack includes the option to make your website mobile-friendly. While it doesn’t have many options, it is a quick and easy way to optimize your website for the mobile visitor, without additional design and development.
Speed and security
Two things that need to be considered and tested on every plugin that you install are the security of the plugin, and performance. Some plugins create extra tables in the database or make unnecessary calls and will slow down the performance of your site. Jetpack was created by Automattic, which has a rigorous testing process for their plugins, and the plugin has been vetted and approved by the WordPress.org open source community.