Jetpack, the plugin made by Automattic, is a great free plugin which adds a lot of features to your WordPress website, the features that you can only see on wordpress.com. These features that help you customize and manage your site in a professional way. Let’s take a look at the plugin features and why they’re useful for your WordPress websites.
- 1. Getting started with Jetpack
- 2. Using Jetpack in development mode
- 3. Useful Jetpack features for WordPress themes
- 4. Other non-theme related useful features
- 5. Conclusion
Notes: If you don’t know the difference between self-hosted WordPress websites and WordPress.com, please check this post.
Getting started with Jetpack
Before going into the details, you need to install the plugin. Doing that by going to Plugins → Add New. You will see the plugin is listed at the 1st position. Click on the Install Now button to install it:
After installing, the button will change to Activate, click it again to activate the plugin. Jetpack will show you a notification asking to connect your website to WordPress.com. This step is required for some modules to work such as Stats, Publicize, etc. You need to create an account on WordPress.com and follow the instruction to connect your website.
You will see a new menu added on the left called Jetpack. Now go to Jetpack → Settings and you will see all modules:
Jetpack modules are organized into several groups: General, Engagement, Security, Appearance and Writing. Next to each module is a switching button that allows you to enable or disable the modules.
Using Jetpack in development mode
Jetpack requires you to connect to WordPress.com to use its functionality. However, if you don’t want to connect to WordPress.com, you can still use it freely by enabling the development mode. Please following these steps:
- Use an FTP software like FileZilla to connect to your host
- Open the file
wp-config.phpin the installed WordPress folder
- Add the following line at the beginning of the file, below
define( 'JETPACK_DEV_DEBUG', true);
For more information, please read this guide.
Useful Jetpack features for WordPress themes
Jetpack offers several modules useful for themes such as Custom Content Type and Custom CSS. Let’s go through each of them.
Custom Content Type
Jetpack custom content types module adds custom post types (CPTs) to your site. These CPTs allow you to add content that doesn’t necessarily fit into a post but isn’t right for a static page either. Since this is part of Jetpack, you can even switch themes without losing these custom post types!
There are 2 CPTs that we use in our themes: portfolio and testimonial.
Once activated, a new menu Portfolios will appear on the left menu that allows you to add projects.
When you add a new or edit a project, remember to add the following info:
- Featured image
- Project Types
- Project Tags
- And sometimes additional Project Settings (depends on each theme, the settings might be different). Note that not all themes has Project Settings. These settings are added by themes (for example TheFour theme).
Similar to portfolios, when you activated the Testimonials CPT, you will see a new menu item Testimonials on the left menu that allows you to add testimonials to your website.
When adding or editing a testimonial, please note that:
- The post title will be used for the testimonial author. Sometimes, you need to add
spantag to display his position, like we did in TheFour theme.
- The featured image needs to be the author avatar.
Custom CSS module is a very helpful module for the website owners. This module allows you to change the appearance of your website using CSS. After activating the module, go to
Appearance → Edit CSS to add your custom CSS:
There you can enter any CSS to change your theme look and field.
If you’re just getting started with CSS, there will be a learning curve, but CSS is a very valuable and reusable skill. There are a TON of great resources on the web to get you started with learning more about HTML and CSS. The Daily Post blog featured a great series of CSS articles you might like as a starting point:
- An Intro to CSS, or How to Make Things Look Like You Like
- An Intro to CSS: Finding CSS Selectors
- Intro to CSS: Previewing Changes with the Matched Rule Pane
- Take a look at introductory videos for the Developer Tools built into Firefox, Chrome, Safari and Internet Explorer to help get you started.
Instead of having to click a link to get to the next set of posts, infinite scrolling pulls the next posts automatically into view when the reader approaches the bottom of the page. This module is very useful for blogging themes where the user experience is important.
There’s nothing to do except activating the module under Jetpack → Settings and check that Scroll Infinitely is checked under Settings → Reading. If your WordPress themes support it, then it works automatically.
Besides features that can be integrated into themes, there are a lot of features in Jetpack that might be useful for your websites.
Boost Page Load Speed with WordPress.com CND using Photon module
Activating Photon means that the images in your posts and pages are going to be served through the WordPress.com CDN (Content Delivery Network). This, like other CDNs, takes a lot of the loading pressure off your host and help your website load faster. Boo-yah!
If your post has managed to keep your visitors’ attention long enough for them to make it to the very end of the post, then they obviously like what you have to say. Why not offer them the option to browse other posts on your blog so that they can find something else to read?
Jetpack Related Posts module not only will this help keep your visitors’ on your site longer, and thus lower bounce rate, but it will help them navigate your site with easy.
However, Jetpack creates related posts automatically, so if you want to choose some custom related posts, this guide may help.
Monitor for Email Notifications of Downtime
Wouldn’t you hate it if you found out your site had been down for over and hour and no one notified you? Just think of how much traffic you’d lose! With the monitoring feature activated in Jetpack you can, at the very least, get an email notification that your site is experiencing downtime.
The early warning could be nothing to worry about, but if it persists, then you’ll get another email that will tell you that it may be time to contact your host provider. It’s just one more way to stay one step ahead of the game.
See how many visits your website gets with WordPress.com Stats
WordPress.com Stats lets you know how many visits your site gets, and what posts and pages are most popular.
There are many plugins and services that provide statistics, but data can be overwhelming. WordPress.com Stats makes the most popular metrics easy to understand through a clear and attractive interface. Plus, you can use WordPress.com stats in conjunction with other analytics plugins and services.
Publicize module makes it easy to share your site’s posts on several social media networks automatically when you publish a new post.
There are many modules in Jetpack that you can explore yourself. They’re useful for millions of users on WordPress.com and might be for you, too. Jetpack is actively maintained and developed by Automattic, there’s no doubt about its future.