Jetpack: The Plugin People Love to Hate

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Jetpack can be considered the swiss army knife of WordPress plugins. It gives you many cool and useful little plugins all wrapped up inn one interface. You may have read on many other blogs how people hate it for various reasons, but if you look closely these people are skilled developers and Jetpack was not made with them in mind.

It is more for the layperson that wants an easy way to do something without hunting around for that perfect plugin. Yes there may be a better plugin out there to do one of these tasks, but again Jetpack may offer a simpler and quicker way for you to get it done. Jetpack comes pre-installed when you first load up a fresh wordpress installation. Yes you can of course remove it if you wish and if you change your mind later you can re-install it just like any other plugin.

The Good Things About Jetpack

When activated you will see Jetpack in your left menu towards the top, since jetpack is made by the people at WordPress they get top priority in the menu. When you click on you will see, as of this posting, 31 neat little baby plugins if you will. I doubt you will use many so let me run down a couple of my favorites.

Site Stats

While this is not for those data hungry users out there (thats what google analytics is for), it is great for quick on the fly stats. I will tell you how many visits you received each day along with a graph of the past 30 days. It also will provide you with pages your visitors viewed, referrers, and search engine traffic. You can also have a mini stat report on your dashboard. A great thing about Site Stats is, unlike some other stat plugins, the data is stored on WordPress’s server and will not bloat up your database.

Publicize

This one is great for those that blog. You can connect it to your social media profiles and every time you do a new blog post it will automatically post it to your profiles. Works with Facebook, Twitter, LinkendIn, Google+, Tumbler, and Path. The one downside is it will work with your Facebook profile or Facebook page but not both.

Sharing

Sharing is another great one for those that blog. We all would like people to share our blog posts with others and this mini plugin places share buttons to the most popular social media sites on each of your posts with out you having to do anything. My only problem is out of the box it doesnt center on the post, but Im kinda anal that way.

Contact Form

Every site should have a contact form, a quick and easy way for your visitors to contact you with comments or questions. There are many plug ins to help you with this but most can be a bit tricky to set up while Jetpack’s is super simple. Just go to the page you want the form on and click the new button that says “add a contact form”. A pop up appears with the basic text fields but you can others if you wish. Then set the send email address and subject line and you’re done.

There are a few others that may be worth your time to do something you wish but these are the basics that I may use when setting up someone’s site or you would most likely use on your own.

The Bad and The Ugly

With the good comes the bad of course and Jetpack does have a few detractors to be aware of. One of the biggies is you have to have a wordpress.com account. Yes I have spent time getting everyone away from the free version and going self hosted only to now tell you if you want to use Jetpack you still need to set yourself up with a WordPress account. I still stand by being self hosted for all the reasons I have previously talked about 🙂 Having a wordpress account is for things like Site Stats above, all the data is stored on your WordPress account and not your database this is a good thing. Some of the other plugins I have no clue.

Another bad is when you activate Jetpack every single little feature is activated out of the box! This can put unneeded coding into your site which you want to avoid. Above I talk about 4 plugins you may use (maybe a couple others) out of 31 so the majority you will never need. I mean how many of you need a plug in to show complex math equations? Yet it is activated right out of the box. So you will need to deactivate all the ones you are not going to use.

And now for the ugly. So you sit and stare at all those plugins on the Jetpack page and scratch your head “where is the deactivate buttons?” yea they kind of hide it on you just to be difficult. You first have to click on the ‘Learn More’ button then the ‘Configure’ button will change to the ‘Deactivate’ button. Nice huh. Be sure you also check after updates to see if any new features were installed already active.

As mentioned for the layperson or even me when Im creating a simple site for someone these little plugins contained in Jetpack can make life simpler even with the couple drawbacks. They do their job with out a lot of fuss or set up.

If you need something more elaborate I’m sure there is a plugin out there for you.

Have you used Jetpack? What are your experiences?

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