Jetpack is one of the most popular plugins for WordPress. Most of the features the Jetpack plugin offers are free and easy to install, but the plugin gets a lot of criticism for being “too big” or trying to do “too much.” We disagree with this view. Running your own WordPress site can be very challenging, especially in the beginning when you are first building your site. Jetpack replaces the need to install dozens of plugins by offering the most commonly used site features under a single plugin. It also helps with performance and speed. Most of the features in Jetpack run as web services on Jetpack’s servers. This means that you can provide robust functionality for your visitors without having to pay for bigger, beefier WordPress hosting. Navigating everything that Jetpack has to offer can be challenging for some WordPress site owners, which is why we’ve put together a list of essential Jetpack features every site owner should use.
Photon – The Free Content Delivery Network for WordPress
These days speed is an essential component for any WordPress site. It affects everything from Adwords performance to conversion rates. One of the best tools you can use to improve site performance is a Content Delivery Network (CDN). It’s also typically been one of the hardest feature for WordPress site owners to use. CDNs can be expensive and time consuming to implement. That is until now. The Jetpack plugin includes a free CDN called Photon that allows WordPress administrators to automatically cache images and other media files. Best of all, it caches these resources on the WordPress.com platform instead of your local hosts resources or a third party CDN that you maintain yourself. Users who host on Pressable are already provided with our own CDN, so you don’t have to worry about enabling this feature on your Pressable hosted WordPress site. On a regular shared hosting account or VPS, Photon is a attractive feature because it can help your site load faster. It can also help save on bandwidth costs (if your host charges for bandwidth). Some hosts suggest using their own CDN, or a third party CDN, but can charge between $50 to $250 a month depending on the level of service. Photon is a high performing CDN system, and it is free. What’s not to love about that?
There is no doubt that there are a lot of security features offered in the WordPress Community. It’s also true that some are more essential than others. Jetpack provides a core set of very cool security features that replace the need to install 5 or so security plugins. The team behind Jetpack’s security features are the same team that built and maintained the popular security plugin “Bruteprotect.” While the security features are one of the few features in Jetpack that requires one of the paid plans, it does incorporate a ton of awesome features. These include real time monitoring, brute force protection, and anti-spam protection (powered by Akismet). You can learn more about the paid plans for Jetpack here.
Small Features, Huge Difference
Jetpack also provides dozens of smaller features that actually make a huge difference in the everyday management of your WordPress site. A good example is the related posts feature. Jetpack includes a free feature that allows the display of posts related to a specific topic when a reader is reading a post. This type of feature is generally included in many plugins that are specific to ‘related posts’. Unfortunately, most of these plugins suffer from performance issues due to the amount of resources they can consume on your server. Related Post plugins also tend to be blacklisted by a majority of WordPress Managed Hosts, like Pressable. Jetpack’s related post feature uses WordPress.com’s infrastructure to power that feature, so it does not impact the performance of the server the WordPress site is installed on.
The same can be said for plugins that include image gallery features, like tiled galleries. Many plugins (or even themes that include that type of functionality) can be very expensive to maintain due to bandwidth usage. They can dramatically increase the costs of your WordPress hosting. Jetpack offers it’s own image gallery features, and again, it uses the WordPress.com infrastructure to power this functionality. Both the related plugin feature and the image gallery feature(s) are free.
While Jetpack is a large plugin, it replaces the need to install a dozen or more plugins. It also comes packed with a ton of “must-have” features. Most of the features are free, and a majority of the features helps improve the experience of managing your own WordPress site. If you haven’t checked it out yet, you definitely should. It might make your next WordPress project run a lot faster and more secure.
You can read more about the Jetpack WordPress plugin and its new features here, or on Jetpack’s site at: http://jetpack.com. To use Jetpack you do need to register for a WordPress.com account, which is free. Registering an account allows you to use the resources available on the WordPress.com platform, and it protects your user data between your site and the WordPress.com system.