We were promised a future filled with jetpacks. While this would make our world infinitely cooler, there comes certain pros and cons to a jetpack.

Pros: fly like a bird, avoid rush hour traffic, skip long layovers in Atlanta.
Cons: run out of fuel mid-air, engine may burn your backside, deadly collisions.

While we can’t fly into the clouds with a jetpack yet, Jetpack for WordPress is your ticket to the WordPress cloud. The most expansive WordPress plugin ever includes a whopping 30 free modules to supercharge your website.

Similar to a personal jetpack, Jetpack carries it’s own pros and cons. Read on to see if this Jetpack is worth riding.

The Pros of Jetpack for WordPress

Created by Automattic (who created WordPress.com), Jetpack is one of WordPress’ most popular plugins over the past few years. 30 premium features (and more added often) are offered for free that are useful to WordPress beginners and pros alike.

The settings page can look intimidating (this isn’t even half the options):

jetpack modules

Don’t activate all the features, rather pick and choose which ones work for you. Here’s a sampling of the modules that are essential to optimize your website.

Publicize
Who has time to go to all of their social media platforms to share a new blog post? Just hit “Publish” on your post and this module automatically pings and shares a link with your Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Yahoo!, and LinkedIn pages. (Google does not offer an API to publish to Google Plus.)

WordPress.com Stats
The sheer amount of statistical information is Google Analytics is daunting. If you want an easy-to-understand stat interface, this will work perfectly. Check out a concise graph of your monthly, weekly, and daily stats without leaving WordPress.

Photon
Jetpack also includes Photon, a fully functional content delivery network. Photon serves your posts’ images from the WordPress network grid, saving you precious bandwidth. This is especially helpful if you are on a shared server that doesn’t support unlimited bandwidth.

Sharing
There’s a gazillion sharing plugins in WordPress, but “Sharing” will work just fine. Have your readers share your content with Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Stumbleupon, Reddit, and many more services. Create your own custom sharing buttons and configure the services as icons, text, or both.

Mobile Theme
If your website doesn’t have a responsive theme, you may want to look into “Mobile Theme”. Jetpack will override whatever mobile theme you have now with a minimalistic, blue design that’s easy to read.

Infinite Scroll
This useful plugin automatically pulls the next set of posts into view when the reader gets to the bottom of the page. This should help your website’s bounce rate.

Omnisearch
Omnisearch is one of the newest services offered by Jetpack. Search for anything locally on your site. On your WordPress dashboard, simply type in a search request and Omnisearch shows you posts, pages, comments, and feedback containing your search term.

The Cons of Jetpack for WordPress

With great power comes great responsibility. You must be aware of the limitations and drawbacks of such a large plugin like Jetpack.

Beware of Plugin Bloat
Some Jetpack critics believe all these modules in this plugin will make your website feel just like you after Thanksgiving dinner: sleepy, slow, bloated. If you’re site is loading slowly and you are not sure what’s causing it, the culprit may be resource hog Jetpack.

Many plugins have their own CSS / Javascript that needs to be loaded for the plugin to perform correctly. The link goes to the external files in the header or footer, so that the CSS / Javascript files are loaded. The site requests the file, than the file is returned (known as a Round Trip). The less round trips, the faster the site appears.

A better alternative to what Automattic has done is to provide a simple checkbox so you can deactivate the modules you don’t need, instead of going into every module to turn it off or on.

Default Activation
Auto-activation can be real annoying if it messes with any part of your site. Jetpack implements live code that could change your site’s functionality without notice. Some plugins you don’t want to update right away for fear of breaking a widget or aspect of the layout.

Instead of making activation optional, you now have to get another plugin called Manual Control to turn this “feature” off.

Jetpack Ego
This is just a minor annoyance, but who does Jetpack think it is?! It should be included in the “Plugins” section with the rest of it’s kind, but apparently it is so self-important that it’s above “Posts”

jetpack ego

If you are interested in just the “Stats” portion of Jetpack, check out Jetpack Lite. This plugin is one of the first I’ve seen not to add to a plugin, but rather remove all the modules, files, and code from the parent plugin. Jetpack Lite’s objective is to cause no additional load on your server.

While not perfect, Jetpack is a godsend for beginners who are just getting started with WordPress. However, if you are experienced with the WordPress directory, likely you have found individual plugins that work better for you than the large Jetpack collection.

Do you use Jetpack for WordPress? Which modules are your favorites?