Is the WordPress Jetpack plugin worth the convenience?

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At first glance, the Jetpack plugin seems like a Swiss army knife of WordPress features. Developed by the creators of WordPress, Automattic, it gives administrators access to much of the added functionality enjoyed by WordPress.com users like traffic analytics and related posts. As such, many web hosts pre-install Jetpack with WordPress. However, as you can imagine with a plugin that has over 30 separate modules, it comes at a cost. So is Jetpack something you should have on your WordPress site?

Like much of life, the short answer is ‘it depends’. The beauty of WordPress is how much customization is available through its plugins, first-party or not. For most of the features, Jetpack provides, you’d be able to find great alternatives that are at least as good, if not better than what Jetpack offers. WPMUDEV gives a good rundown of alternatives.

But let’s take a step back. Before you run off to look for replacements for each function you use, here are some reasons why you may just want to stick to using Jetpack instead.

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If you want to use the desktop/mobile WordPress app

Last November, WordPress unveiled it’s sexy new desktop app – making creating content a lot more streamlined and easier to use. This requires a WordPress.com login and thus if you’re hosting WordPress on your own, Jetpack unifies this so that you can use the desktop app. If anything, I’d say this in itself is a great reason to use Jetpack.

When you are going to be using multiple modules

The great thing about Jetpack is that it is all created by the same developer. This means that they go hand in hand with way fewer compatibility issues as compared to a strung together group of plugins.

When you administer several WordPress sites

Having a single login across all your WordPress sites ensures you can jump from one site to another quickly without a mess of login information and lost passwords. Just make sure your password is secure! This also allows you to update plugins across sites tied to your single account, minimizing the frustration when several plugins get an update.

If you need JSON API access

You could also use WP-API, but there are differences in the implementation. There is a handy comparison chart here.

If you are a power user that gets efficiency from Markdown and Shortcode embeds

High volume WordPress users understand the joy of being able to create content quickly and without fuss. Markdown and Embed Shortcodes are a couple of ways that make it a joy to use WordPress.

On the other hand…

As we alluded to earlier, if all you are after is one or two additional features, there are alternatives you may be better off using. As with loading up on too many plugins, Jetpack bulks up very quickly when you activate too many modules.

Another concern that some people have is that by using the built-in CDN for images, you may be losing SEO points. This varies from person to person but is worth pointing out if SEO is critical to your business.

There are some modules that seem a bit obtuse – ‘Likes’ spring to mind. After all, the practical value of a Facebook ‘Like’ is that it helps your content get distributed to more people on the behemoth of a social network, instead of on WordPress’ more obscure blog discovery system. Implementing Facebook likes to your blog is also amazingly simple.

At the end of the day…

Jetpack definitely has a place for many people. It is a great balance of features and convenience in a single package, as long as you know the risks that are involved. If you can live without some of the WordPress.com only features, there is certainly better mileage you may be able to get from a set of other plugins. But then again if you are the sort who knows what to look out for, Jetpack was probably not created for you.

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