Boon or Bane? The Jetpack Plugin for WordPress

No Picture

The Jetpack plugin is probably one of the most feature-rich WordPress plugins on the market. It offers more than 30 functions by now, which raises the question if it really makes sense to install such a “monster”. There’s certainly one or the other useful function. But you’ll most likely find things you won’t ever need or which are already covered by other plugins. On the other hand, you could forgo all of those plugins and only use Jetpack. Let’s play this scenario through.

wordpress-plugin-jetpack

A Jetpack with 33 Functions for WordPress

Jetpack comes with 33 functions by now. But before you can benefit from the functionality of this plugin, you’ll need to connect it to your WordPress.com account. If you have a Gravatar account, you won’t need anything else.

jetpack-aktivieren

Once connected to the WordPress account, you can use all 33 Jetpack function modules. 21 are activated by default and only have to be configured – if you want to use them.

The Jetpack settings menu displays the currently activated modules. Of course, you can deactivate those you don’t need and then configure the “rest”.

aktivierte-jetpack-module

Active modules are highlighted in blue.

If you hover the mouse over the modules, you’ll see the respective modules right away. Deactivate the ones you don’t need. If you’re not sure whether you’ll need a certain module or not, switch to the Jetpack menu item “Jetpack” and click “Show all Jetpack functions” at the bottom of the page.

You’ll now see a list of modules and their description. If you click a certain module, a new window with a more detailed description will open. This helps you deciding what’s important and what’s not. If an action is required, you’ll see a button for the activation or configuration in the opening window.

popup-bildschirm-jetpack

Detailed module description in the pop-up window, including an activation button.

What makes Jetpack such a great tool for Europeans is that it can be adjusted to EU law. Jetpack warns you if a function is possibly not legally compliant. Well done!

hinweise-auf-deusches-recht

Warning message for potential statutory violations.

Jetpack – Attempt of a Proper Configuration

Let’s try not to be too overwhelmed by Jetpack’s incredible functionality and find a proper configuration with all those modules. Afterwards, we can evaluate how meaningful Jetpack really is by taking a look at the HTML source code.

Subscriptions module: Very useful! Extends the comments form by a function that allows your visitors to follow comments and posts. Subscribing posts and comments means to receive emails when new posts or comments were added. Your readers will be grateful for this function. To customize the email text, go to “Settings => Reading”.

Publicize module: This module allows you to connect your site with popular social media networks and publish new posts on your profile with one click. The module takes the featured image and the description from the WordPress post and publishes both at the same time in your social networks. You could argue if it’s a good decision to have the same content on all sites. It’s comfortable for sure, but if you want to build up a high-quality social network site, you should publish by hand and use at least modified content.

Sharing module: Share buttons are a must-have nowadays and should be found in any blog – at the end of a post or page. Unfortunately, Jetpack’s grey buttons are not compatible with every theme, so try it out before you go online with your site. Otherwise, you can also go with the original buttons in the settings. These should work just fine with any theme.

Related Posts module: Very important to keep your readers on your website and to pique their interest in other articles. Despite all my attempts on different systems and various themes, I couldn’t get it to run. Too bad.

Photon module: When activated, all image files will be served from the WordPress.com Content Delivery Network. Images will be stored on the WordPress servers and served from there. It works fantastic and really improves your loading performance. Recommended!

Mobile Theme module: A special theme for mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. Useful for themes that aren’t responsive and don’t adjust automatically to the output medium. The Mobile theme looks pretty good, loads fast, and is “readable”. This will give your readers added value. Highly recommended!

Extra Sidebar Widgets module: Adds several beneficial widgets to your widget area. These are Twitter Widget, Facebook Like Box Widget, Image Widget for showing images in the sidebar, Gravatar Widget, Gallery Widget, and Recent Posts Widget. Besides the Twitter and Facebook Like Box widget, it’s not really useful, in my opinion.

Shortcode Embeds module: Embeds YouTube, Vimeo, Slideshare, and similar content into the visual editor. Good to have and handy!

Monitor module: Notifies you when your WordPress site is down and online again. Useful, especially if you want to earn money with your WordPress website.

VaultPress module: The most useful module. VaultPress is by far the best service for WordPress backups. It allows you to back up your system and, in addition, to install the backup with one click. It’s not for free, however. Prices start from $5/month. But it’s definitely worth it.

Spelling and Grammar Module: Even the widest-awake blogger needs help here and may it be only to prevent slips of the pen. However, it should be taken with a pinch of salt because it doesn’t work very well as you can see:

rechtschreibung-und-grammatik

Jetpack’s spelling and grammar check should be seen more as a rough guide. It indicates four mistakes in the first paragraph, which is actually free of mistakes.

Although it’s supposed to be multilingual, the result of the check is rather questionable :-)

What About the Other Jetpack Modules?

All other modules should be either treated with caution like Post by Email, which is a potential safety risk or aren’t necessary. On principle, you should install as many plugins as necessary but as few as possible.

The contact form would have been a real smash, but it requires the active Akismet Antispam plugin to ensure that messages are free of spam. Akismet, however, has a big data protection issue if your website is subject to German/EU law and hence shouldn’t be used. This would be a reason for an expensive cease and desist letter. Using the contact form without Akismet’s spam protection isn’t a good idea, unless you want to have an inbox full of spam mails.

Jetpack – the Curse of Agonizing Slowness?

Ten JavaScripts and four CSS files have already been added to the website’s source text after activating the plugin. That’s quite a few and has, of course, impact on the loading performance of your website. But how many files will be incorporated after having all necessary modules activated and configured?

We’ll now deactivate all modules other than the 11 above mentioned and configure the latter accurately via the menu item “Jetpack => Settings”. Then we’ll take another look at the source text of our test site and count the referenced CSS and JavaScript files.

Number of CSS files besides theme relevant CSS: 4

Number of JavaScript files besides theme relevant JavaScript: Incredible two! I would have never expected that you can configure Jetpack in such an extensive and still resource-efficient way.

Conclusion

Contrary to common belief, Jetpack can be a boon. If configured correctly and used wisely, it provides some really useful functions for which you would otherwise need several plugins. This would be an option, but you would always run the risk of incompatibilities. Jetpack, however, provides everything from one source.

The CSS and JavaScript files referenced by Jetpack shrunk to a minimum and won’t slow down your website when using a good minimizing and caching plugin. Go for it!

Related Links

(dpe)

Andreas Hecht

Andreas Hecht is a journalist and specialist for WordPress and WordPress Security. He roams the web since its inception. He has published an ebook on WordPress Security, which you might want to take a look at.

Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Jeremy
Guest
Hi there! My name is Jeremy, and I work on the Jetpack team. Thanks for the thorough review, I’m glad to see you liked the plugin! I had a few questions, if you don’t mind: Unfortunately, Jetpack’s grey buttons are not compatible with every theme, so try it out before you go online with your site. Did you experience issues with a specific theme? We want the buttons to be compatible with every theme out there, so if you ran into issues with a specific theme let me know, and we’ll work on getting this fixed. Despite all my attempts… Read more »
Juliette Giannesini
Guest

I was considering the plugin, but I’m a little bit put off by how big of a “pack” it has become. I’m also afraid to rely on it for all or most of my needs, just in case it becomes a paid plugin or if it stops being supported.

Good analysis though, I’ll think about it again.

Jeremy
Guest

Hi Juliette!

No need to worry: what’s free in Jetpack today will remain free in the future! We may add some more paid modules, like the VideoPress module we added a little while back, but what’s free will remain free.

We’re also not planning on stopping support for the plugin any time soon. The plugin is actively developed, and most of its code comes from WordPress.com, which isn’t going away! :)

Arpit Roy
Guest

I have been using Jetpack for more than a year now and am quite happy with it. Never experienced any issues probably because I am using only a bunch of tools that I require.

It’s free and the guys update it frequently. Can’t ask for more!

Essay Maker
Guest

This is a wonderful post! Thanks for sharing your knowledge with us! I hope to read more of your post which is very informative and useful to all the readers. I salute writers like you for doing a great job!

Manon Michel
Guest

Jetpack would be absolutley wonderful – if I didn’t have to have all my clients sign up for a useless WordPress.com they’re never going to use, because I’m already installing a self-hosted WordPress.org for them. That part is so clunky and upsetting. And I have to explain over and over again that no, this isn’t the site I’m creating for them. Just a simple WordPress.com account without the requisit auto blog would be cool.

Michael K
Guest

Nice review! Very insightful for me as I’m trying to figure out whether to go for Jetpack or not.

Richard
Guest

Hello Andreas,

I’m looking for some of the abilities of Jetpack, but heard it’s too bloated. Your mention of the additional http calls seem to confirm that.

Do you know if you can get rid off jetpacks’s addition http calls(css+js files) because I prefer to keep my site minimal.

Thank you!

ALICE
Guest

i don’t need INBUILT PLUGIN on jetpack like( Publicize module,Subscriptions module,Sharing module,Sharing module ETC) , so after this jetpack can useful or not for me
because jetpack make speed low of loading website
and jetpack show us status , protect ,photon site status) is there this function can be useful or not for me
the most important thing is that i dont want to slow my website speed

can anyone suggest me that i should use or not this jetpack plugin

Dieter Petereit
Noupe Team

You should read the article.

wpDiscuz