This is part of the 10 Essential WordPress Plugins Series to help you set your blog for maximum impact from Day 1. In this post, we consider the second Essential WordPress Plugin: Jetpack.
Jetpack is a plugin built by the WordPress team, and adds several forms of functionality to your WordPress blog. It gives you real-time statistics, shortlinks, a Twitter widget, Gravatar Hovercards, and several other items.
Install the Jetpack Plugin
First, we must install the plugin.
As usual, go to your Blog Dashboard, click on “Plugins” and select “Add New.”
Search for “Jetpack” and when you find it, click “Install Now.”
Activate the Jetpack Plugin
After it is installed, make sure you activate it, and when you do so, you will get this screen:
Setup the Jetpack Plugin
In order to set up Jetpack, you must create an account at WordPress.com. It is quick, simple, and free, so go ahead and click that Green Box which says “Connect to WordPress.com.”
When you do, you will get this screen:
If you have an account, great! Go ahead and sign in. If not, then click the link which says “Need an account?” and create one. It only takes a few seconds to create one, and the features of JetPack are well worth it.
Once you have signed in, you will be returned back to your blog Dashboard, and will be greeted by the following screen. Notice that it shows that you are connected to WordPress.com, and notice also that you have a new menu item on the left Dashboard.
By default, all of the features are turned on. This is fine, since most of these options are pretty cool. But let’s go through them one by one and explain what they do, so you can decide if you want them or not. You can learn more about each item by …Surprise, Surprise… clicking on the “Learn More” button.
And if you read what a particular item is about, and decide you do not want that portion installed, you can click on the “Deactivate” button when you are reading what the feature is about:
But before you go about deactivating everything, let me briefly describe what each feature does.
Jetpack WordPress.com Stats
First, is WordPress.com Stats. This is my favorite feature of Jetpack, and is the primary reason I install it. Initially, after you install it, if you click on the Jetpack Site Stats, you will get the following message:
Don’t go have a sarsparilla. There is too much to do to finish setting up your blog. If we hurry, we might be able to get it all done in twenty minutes by the time the stats start showing.
Once it is registered, and running, it will look like this.
Don’t be too worried if you don’t have any statistics to show. After all, your blog is brand new! After a while, you will get some readers, and you will begin to see screen like this (with even better stats, hopefully):
There are numerous other things you can do in this screen, such as clicking on the individual days to see which pages were viewed the most, and where they came from, and what they clicked while they were on your blog. Site stats are very helpful in learning more about your readers, how they read, and what they read. All of which helps you create even better content.
Jetpack Gravatar Hovercards
The next feature is the Gravatar Hovercards.
We will talk more about Gravatars later, but this feature is kind of like a business card for your readers who have Gravatar accounts. It looks like this:
You can see here that “Ant Writes” has a little Blue Ant as his “Gravatar.” If I am reading this blog, and I want to learn more about “Ant Writes” I can hover my mouse over his “Gravatar” image, and this Gravatar Hovercard pops up, telling me a little more about him, his website, and how I can connect with him on Facebook and Twitter (if he had it in there).
This is a nice feature to help your commenters connect with each other. This feature is really only necessary if you are not going to use some sort of commenting plugin like DISQUS, or Intense Debate. But we’ll talk about that later as well.
Jetpack Twitter Widget
The Twitter Widget is next.
If you click the “Learn More” button, it tells you and shows you everything you need to know. Of course, if you don’t have a Twitter account, you better set one up. I’ll explain why later.
Jetpack WP.me Shortlinks
Fourth is the WP.me shortlinks.
A shortlink is a super short version of the longer website address of any webpage. As the “Learn More” box explains, when you are editing a post, if you want to get the shortlink, just click the button.
On the example above, when I click the button, I get this as the shortlink: http://wp.me/p1rrIu-19c
See how nice that is? It’s very nice. That shortlink is much easier to Tweet or to write than this long one: http://www.tillhecomes.org/commentary-on-the-gospel-of-luke/
Jetpack Latex Markup
Fifth, Latex markup.
I don’t have a mathematics blog, and so I don’t care about this feature at all. But I never deactivate it. Why? I don’t know. Just lazy, I guess. Besides, maybe a commenter might one day want to show me a mathematical calculation in a blog comment. You never know.
Next up is Sharedaddy.
This one I actually deactivate. Why? For two reasons.
First, there are several other plugins out there which I think are way better, and second, Standard Theme comes with one built right in, which I think is better than any plugin.
Later in this series on the 10 Essential WordPress Plugins, I will talk briefly about some of the available plugins, and why I still go with Standard Theme’s built-in Sharing links.
Jetpack Shortcode Embeds
The seventh feature is Shortcode Embeds.
For some reason, it has always been kind of tricky to embed video and audio into a WordPress blog. This feature of Jetpack fixes this. I leave it available just in case I want to embed audio, images, or documents from around the web. If, however, I want to embed a video from Vimeo or YouTube, I use a different plugin for that, which is way easier than even this feature in Jetpack. This plugin is also one of my 10 Essential WordPress plugins, and I will tell you more about it in my next post, as it is #3 on my list.
Jetpack After the Deadline
Finally, Jetpack provides you with something called “After the Deadline.”
This is kind of like a Grammar and Spellcheck for your WordPress posts. Though I have worked as an editor, typesetter, and proofreader, things still slip by, and this little feature often catches something I don’t. Even then, mistakes still get published…
That is it for Jetpack! A wonderful, feature-rich plugin for your WordPress blog. Now you can go have your sasparilla.