Should You Use the Jetpack WordPress Plugin?


Jetpack WordPress Plugin

What Is Jetpack?

Jetpack is a plugin created by the team at WordPress.com. It is one super-plugin that contains a whole suite of features – mini-plugins, if you will. It was created to make available to self-hosted WordPress users some of the convenient features that WordPress.com users enjoy. Some of the features that Jetpack includes are:

  • a widget to display your latest Tweets
  • WordPress stats about traffic to your blog
  • Email subscription to blog posts and comments
  • Facebook Like box widget
  • mobile theme
  • “Carousel” to turn image galleries into slideshows
  • image widget – to easily add an image to your sidebar

The Good

  • Jetpack gives you quick and easy access to a plethora of features in one place.
  • It’s made by Automattic, the creators of WordPress itself, so it’s safe to use, actively developed and frequently updated.
  • If you are transitioning from WordPress.com to self-hosted WordPress, it will make the transition smoother and make your new WP site feel familiar.
  • Some of the features are useful and convenient.

The Bad

  • For those of you on a Network Solutions shared hosting account (and probably other shoddy shared hosts), you’ll probably get a nasty error message when you first activate the plugin and you’ll need to adjust your php.ini file to allow php to use more memory. This may not be a shortcoming of Jetpack so much as it is one of the various reasons that Network Solutions sucks. But it certainly won’t make you feel good about Jetpack.
  • While some features of Jetpack require manual activation, others such as some of the widgets, are auto-activated which is a little sneaky. All features should really be opt-in by default.
  • You need a WordPress.com account to activate Jetpack. This seems really unnecessary and extremely confusing. I (along with many other WordPress consultants/developers) spend a lot of time explaining to clients the difference between using self-hosted WordPress and WordPress.com for their website. So just when you’ve gone through the explanation of how they should NOT go to WordPress.com to sign up for or log into to their blog, you then have to turn around and tell them, “well actually if you want to use this plugin you  WILL need a WordPress.com account.” EH?!! That’s just weird and confusing and further muddles the distinction between self-hosted WordPress and WordPress.com
  • The features are convenient but also definitely designed for the personal blogger rather than the serious, business-oriented blogger. You get a range of features with Jetpack but not too much depth with each one.
  • For a more detailed debate on the pros and cons of Jetpack you can check out this blog which also features Matt Mullenweg (founder of WordPress) chiming in on why WordPress.com account is “necessary”.

Who Should Consider Using Jetpack?

  • People transferring their site from WordPress.com to self-hosted WordPress
  • Personal bloggers whose needs are pretty lightweight and not specialized.

Who Should Not Use Jetpack?

  • If you are creating a site for your business, or a blog that you hope to monetize in some way, you will not get the fully-featured tools you need from Jetpack. It would be better to pick and choose from other available plugins to get the power features you’ll need. For example, you’ll need Google Analytics rather than WordPress stats. For email subscriptions you’ll want to use a specific email marketing solution like Aweber or Mailchimp. There’s nothing (yet) in Jetpack that can’t be added with a separate, stand-alone plugin and so for power users you will find better solutions with more specialized plugins.

If you do use Jetpack:

  • You may want to check out the plugin “Manual Control for Jetpack” –  designed to reign in Jetpack’s over-zealousness in activating new modules without your say-so.

Do you use Jetpack? What features do you enjoy or otherwise about it? Leave a comment below.