You may be wondering if you should even install the Jetpack Plugin by WordPress.com. I did mention in my article “WordPress Theme can affect Plugins Needed” that there are strong voices out in the WordPress world who would advise against the use of this otherwise seemingly wonderful Jetpack plugin. I myself was iffy for a while but have now gone ahead and am using it.
You can read more about the pro and dissenting voices in the References section below.
I am choosing to go with Jetpack (for now) because
- they offer many easy features (I am always for easy) and I miss them when I don’t have them
- I like to minimize the number of plugins I need. As I said in “Essential WordPress Plugins“, the Jetpack plugin encompasses three other recommended plugins: Subscribe to Comments, Sidebar Widget, After the Deadline
- when new features become available to Jetpack, you will be notified automatically on your WP admin area and will be added automatically. (Though this may be good for some of us, it is also understandable why other users don’t like this. It adds to the “bloat” of your site without you having much say-so.)
Setting up the Jetpack Plugin
So if you also decide to install the Jetpack plugin, here are some setup/configurations steps that I have researched and may be useful to you too.
The first thing you will notice when you try to (re)activate the Jetpack plugin is that you will get a notice informing you that you have to connect to WordPress.com (because this plugin uses the cloud technology from WordPress.com)
Note: you will need to create a WordPress.com account if you don’t already have one. You just have to follow along with the simple instructions when you click “Connect to WordPress.com”
Once you have done that, you will see “Jetpack” on the left column in your WP admin area. Below is a snapshot of a portion of the screen when you click Jetpack.
The above screen capture only shows a portion of all the available features from Jetpack plugin. As you can see, there are many choices for you to make. However you might also notice that a number of the features are already switched on by default (which is one of the complaints levied against the Jetpack plugin – it automatically activates these features. That means that it implements code that changes the functionality of your site.)
Only the ones with the blue “Activate” buttons have not been automatically added.
Top Recommended “Necessities” from the Jetpack Plugin
Based on some of the recommendations from the proponents of Jetpack, the following are the “Necessities”
To get to the settings of each feature from the Jetpack plugin, you normally click the “learn more” button which will open up a drop down section. You can also choose to deactivate any of the features this same way.
Publicize feature and Sharing feature
Click the “Publicize settings” to set up your connections to your social networks etc.
I have connected mine through to my Facebook, Twitter (though I cannot seem to connect it to the correct Twitter account!), and LinkedIn.
The great thing about this Jetpack Publicize feature is that when activated and configured, social sharing buttons will show up at the bottom of your posts. (You can also choose to not show these social icons in the edit area for each specific post. There is a “show sharing buttons” checkbox towards the bottom.)
What I love even more, or as much as those sharing icons, is that while in the edit mode for your post, you can choose to have your post syndicated over to your social accounts. You can see the Publicize settings to the right of your edit-post section.
Below, on the left you can see that there is no Publicize option when Jetpack plugin is not activated. And on the right, you can see the Publicize options when JetPack is activated. You can untick if you don’t want a particular post to be syndicated to any of your social networks at the time of publication. You can also choose to change the Custom message.
Here is another Jetpack feature I just love.
Without Jetpack plugin, this is what the comments area looks like (at the end of each post):
Now look what it looks like with the Jetpack Comments feature enabled:
You can see that this will encourage readers to leave comments because they can choose to be notified if there are replies to their comments. Great feature! (How many times have you left a comment at someone’s site and never knew if anyone appreciated your comments because there was no easy way to find that site again?)
Before Jetpack, one had to rely on plugins like Contact Form 7 plus Simple Captcha to create an easy contact form for your site.
With Jetpack plugin, you can place easy contact forms anywhere. (I choose to use it only in my Contact Me page.)
With Jetpack’s Contact Form feature activated, you can choose to include a Contact Form in any specific page or post. You will find that “Add Contact Form” button at the top of the edit area for each post/page.
Like I said, I have mine mainly in one place – my Contact Me page.
This is what my Contact Me page looks like when I deactivated my Jetpack plugin:
Now, with my Jetpack reactivated, my Contact Form is so much better and easier on the eye!
This feature from Jetpack plugin is automatically activated. It helps notify (pings) search engines like Google, Bing when you publish/update your site.
I have deactivated this feature because I already have the WordPress SEO (by Yoast) plugin which does the same thing.
JetPack other Great Features
They are really useful if you want to embed a variety of things like YouTube videos, Flickr, etc. This feature is activated by default. To find out how to embed the various media, just click on “Learn More” and then the links in the Jetpack dashboard/page.
Jetpack’s Features that I Deactivated
I actually like this CSS editor as it makes adding your own custom css so much easier. However my Genesis child theme (Prose) already has it’s own Custom CSS:
Unfortunately, Jetpack and Genesis write my custom css independently of each other. So as it is more likely for me to deactivate Jetpack plugin (for whatever reason) than for me to change my (paid) theme, I have decided to minimize confusion and deactivate Jetpack’s Custom CSS.
Posts by Email
Mobile Push Notifications
How to Use JetPack WordPress Plugin video by James Gladwell (from www.adventuresInInternetMarketing.net). I found this rather useful.
References for those who need more:
- AdventuresInInternetMarketing.net – How to Use Jetpack – WordPress Features to Improve Your Site, Nov 2012
- wpmu.org – Should I Use Jetpack on My WordPress Website?, Mar 2013
- yoast.com – Jetpack and WordPress SEO, Nov 2012