WordPress Plugins: Jetpack

Although WordPress.com users cannot install plugins for added functionality, they do have access to a number of features that aren’t included in a basic self-hosted WordPress installation. Fortunately, the folks at Automattic (creators of WordPress) have developed a plugin called Jetpack giving you access to most of that WordPress.com goodness. Some of the things you can do with Jetpack include:

  • Offer your readers a mobile site even if you don’t have a mobile-ready theme.
  • Display links to related posts at the bottom of the current post/page.
  • Automate managing comment spam.
  • Additional widgets for your sidebar along with the ability to define which widgets appear on specific pages within your blog.
  • Shortcodes for embedding content on a post or page. This makes including YouTube videos or Flickr photos in a post so easy.
  • A form builder that lets you build a lot more than just a simple contact form.
  • Markdown support so you can use Markdown instead of HTML if you prefer.
  • Site stats hooks you into WordPress.com’s very impressive site stats platform so you can see how many people are visiting your blog, where they are coming from, what they are looking at and much more.

There’s lots more – 33 at the moment with new features added regularly.

Jetpack home screen

Once you install and activate the Jetpack plugin, you’ll see a Jetpack section added to your Dashboard menu. Before you can use Jetpack’s features, you will need to connect your site to Jetpack so that some of the features will function. Jetpack will walk you through that process.

With that done, you’re ready to activate features and define their settings. Some of the features – like Omnisearch, Akismet and Site Stats – permanently reside under the Jetpack menu but most of them are incorporated somewhere in the WordPress back-end. For example, if you activate the Contact Form feature, it will appear as a button in the page/post editing screen (right next to the Add Media button). Others may appear as widgets. Some – like the embed shortcodes or Markdown – don’t “appear” anywhere. They are codes you’ll use when editing. There is a Jetpack Support site with details on using each of the features.

Future posts will look at individual Jetpack features and how to best use them. Stay tuned and see what Jetpack can do for you.