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Hidden features: 10 Jetpack modules you missed to start using today

Written by Alex Denning on in Plugins 1 comment
jetpack-wpzoom

Jetpack is one of the most popular WordPress plugins, with over one million installs. Built by Automattic, the quasi-parent-company of WordPress, the plugin is open source with lots of contributors, but also significant commercial resources behind it.

Jetpack is important for the future of WordPress. WordPress co-founder Matt Mullenweg claims sites with Jetpack experience major benefits:

It’s one of the most popular plugins in WP history, and sites that include it as part of their WordPress install are more likely to to have engaged and active users — we’ve even seen it reduce churn on major web hosts. While there’s been a lot that’s happened in the Jetpack plugin so far, what’s around the corner has me even more excited.

Matt argues Jetpack has been a major part of the continued growth in WordPress’ user share – currently about 25% of all websites – and without it, WordPress is not as attractive as its commercial competitors. In a comment on WPTavern, Matt explains the attraction of Jetpack:

Jetpack brings the features we know makes WordPress much more compelling for a mainstream audience to the .org side of things so people can have the best of both worlds — the complete freedom of running your own code wherever you want to host it and the functionality of a world-class cloud service.

Jetpack is a hugely ambitious plugin and – if you believe Matt – its success is closely linked to WordPress’ success. With new features added all the time, it can be difficult to keep up with what the plugin is offering.

Here are ten really useful Jetpack features you may have missed. We’ll assume here you’ve installed the plugin and connected to a WordPress.com account (if you need help installing follow these instructions). If you’re using WordPress.com and reading this makes you want to switch, here’s how to switch from WordPress.com to self-hosted WordPress.

1. Remotely manage your sites with automatic plugin updates

Jetpack Manage lets you manage all your self-hosted WordPress sites from a single dashboard on WordPress.com, including set automatic plugin updates.

Visit wordpress.com/sites and you’ll see all your sites with Jetpack installed listed. Choose the site you want to manage and navigate to Plugins (scroll down on the left).

You’ll see a list of plugins installed and active on the site and a toggle below each with an option for activating autoupdates. Turn this on for everything you want to update, or click through for extra details and activate there:

enable-jetpack

You’ll need to repeat this for all your sites and all the plugins on each. It is a little fiddly to repeat this for all sites, but it’s much faster than manually updating plugins for years to come – especially if you have multiple sites.

2. Add a major layer of security

Keeping your plugins up-to-date eliminates a major WordPress security risk (which is why the above is so important). That’s not all you can do, though – and not all you can do with Jetpack.

Enforce two-factor authentication

Two-factor authentication is the easiest way of making your logins much more secure. Jetpack lets you use WordPress.com logins in order to make use of two-factor.

By default Jetpack adds two factor logins as an option, but to be effective you need to make sure they’re used every time. You can do this with a little bit of code:

  1. Install the Functionality plugin. This is where we’ll add the code (adding it to a plugin means there will be no problems when you updatee your theme).
  2. Navigate to Plugins → Editor → select Functionality from the dropdown in the top right and press Select.
  3. Add the following lines of code, press save and you’re done!
addfilter( 'jetpackremoveloginform', 'returntrue' );

addfilter( 'jetpackssorequiretwostep', 'returntrue' );

This will disable the local login form (i.e. the one powered by WordPress on your site) and force all users to login via WordPress.com, with two-factor authentication, instead.

Whilst using Jetpack’s solution avoids the need for an extra plugin, it relies on using WordPress.com to login. If you’d prefer to use a two-factor solution you’re likely already using – such as Google Authenticator – then use this plugin instead.

Protect from brute-force attacks

Jetpack’s Protect module protects you against “brute force” (where a hacker or script just tries over and over to attack your site) attacks via WordPress’ XML-RPC, one of the oldest and most common attacks against WordPress sites. Activate this from Jetpack’s settings under the Security tab. Easy to do and well worth it.

3. Get convenient detailed analytics

Jetpack’s Site Stats are hardly a “feature you missed”, but you may be surprised to learn of the depth of the analytics available (free, right from your WordPress Dashboard).

popular-time-jetpack

This site is having a good time on a Tuesday.

Head to Jetpack → Site Stats and you’ll see the regular stats, showing visitors, page views and suchlike. However, click through to “Enhanced Stats” and you’ll find a whole host of “insights” as well as tabs broken down for summaries across days, weeks, months and years.

This isn’t Google Analytics, and you should be using that for detailed statistics, but Jetpack’s Site Stats are perfectly adequate for getting insights on visitors conveniently from your Dashboard.

4. Create beautiful image and portfolio galleries

Our portfolio WordPress themes are used by thousands of creatives (here’s ten inspiring examples), who know the importance of beautifully showing off their work. We always recommend Jetpack’s gallery features for doing this.

screen-shot-2016-10-13-at-16-45-48

Jetpack lets you create beautiful tiled galleries. To use these you’ll need to head to Jetpack’s settings and then Appearance and enable Photon and Tiled Galleries.

Now when you create a gallery in a WordPress post or page (add an image as normal, but then add more and press Create Gallery) you can set the type as Tiled Mosaic and get a beautiful gallery.

Here’s our Inspiro theme with a tiled mosaic in action.

Pretty cool, right?

5. Get a mobile version of your site

Jetpack lets you add a basic version of your site for mobile users! With smartphone usage ever on the rise, it’s essential your site responds to smartphone demand.

You can activate the Mobile Theme module from Jetpack’s settings and then Appearance, and toggling on Mobile Theme. Once the module is active you can expand for a couple of extra options for how your site displays.

If you’re using a WPZOOM theme then you don’t need to worry about this! All our themes are responsive – so they have a mobile version built in, out the box. Easy :)

6. Infinite scrolling through posts

Infinite Scroll adds some magic to your homepage and post archives. When a reader gets to the bottom of the page, instead of having to click through links to get to the next set of posts, the next batch of posts are automatically loaded for the reader. You can also opt for a “read more” button which loads more posts without reloading the page.

Pretty neat, right?

read-more

Infinite Scroll is only available in themes that support it (like our Monte theme, pictured above). You can add it yourself, but adding it and making it look nice is a bit of a challenge.

Easier just to get a great WordPress theme that does it for you :)

7. Elegant social sharing buttons

Jetpack’s Sharing module adds some nice social sharing buttons to your posts that will make it easy for readers to share you content in their social networks.

With the module activated, you’ll find social buttons under Settings → Sharing. Scroll down to the bottom of the page and you can drag and drop the social networks you want to display, and select between various display options – including the elegant Icon Only choice.

sharing

Choose where you want the buttons to display (below posts is probably best, so visitors can finish reading and then share), save and you’re done! You’ll now have the buttons added to your site.

Bonus: you can also enable the Publicize module so that when you publish new posts they automagically get posted to your own social networks. You’ll find the settings on the same Sharing page as the buttons.

8. Add customizable related posts

Displaying related posts is a great way of keeping visitors on your site and enjoying your content after they finish reading one post.

Jetpack’s Related Posts module does a great job of showing related posts. Related posts plugins are a strain on server resources as they need to analyse all your posts and pages in order to determine which is the best “related”. Jetpack does all this, but in the cloud, so there’s no additional load on your own server. Very convenient.

You can enable Related Posts under the Engagement tab of Jetpack’s settings. Expand next to the button and you can choose whether to show a title and images next to your posts.

related-posts

Save the changes and you can keep visitors on your site longer.

Again make use of the functionality plugin and you can start customizing your related posts. The Jetpack site has some useful code snippets with details of what you can use.

9. Convenient contact forms

Contact forms are really useful. They avoid the need to display your email address publicly on your site, something which can attract a lot of spam.

Jetpack – of course – has a contact form built in. Activate it under the Settings’ Writing tab. When editing any post or page you’ll now have a new icon added: Add Contact Form. Select where you want the contact form to go, select this and a popup will show where you can set your form options.

Under Form Builder you can add the fields you want for your form. Use the Field Type dropdown to select different types of fields. And the r

adiobox to select if a field is required. Add as many fields as you want, then use the Email Notifications tab to control how you’re notified when someone uses the form.

Of course, if you’re using one of our newest themes, you’ll find built in styling for the contact form :)

Bonus: use this plugin to send all those filling out your contact form an auto-reply. Very handy if you’re getting lots of requests.

10. Turn off what you’re not using

Jetpack may deliver misleading results when tested for load impact as its stats and other admin-only features increase load time for logged-in users, but not regular visitors – but it’s still a big plugin.

more on speed link post

One of the ways of reducing its impact on your site’s loading speed is to turn off the features you’re not using. This is really easy to do:

When Jetpack updates, look out for any new modules which have been auto-enabled. Jetpack has done this in the past and it has annoyed a lot of users (to the point someone made a plugin to definitely stop Jetpack from doing this), so it’s something to look out for. Not a deal-breaker, just something to be mindful of.

Jetpack is incredibly powerful and versatile

Jetpack has a controversial origin but it’s now indisputably an essential WordPress plugin. As we’ve seen in this post, it’s packed full of features which add a huge amount of value to your WordPress site.

And – we haven’t even covered some of the WordPress speed improvements the plugin offers.

Here’s a recap of the features we looked at in this post:

  1. Remote site management
  2. Two-factor authentication and brute-force attack protection
  3. Get convenient visitor insights with Site Stats
  4. Create beautiful image galleries
  5. Easy mobile version of your site
  6. Add infinite scrolling to posts
  7. Social sharing buttons and auto-posting to social networks
  8. Customizable related posts
  9. Convenient contact forms with auto reply
  10. Meta feature: stop Jetpack auto-installing new features.

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1 Comment

  • Jetpack is must have plugin for all WordPress users. It is multifunctional plugin and you don’t need to install second plugin for single task. Most important it is trusted plugin.

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