Ten years! That’s a huge milestone for a project, especially one that had a pretty simple goal in mind from the start: give self-hosted WordPress sites many of the same features and functionality enjoyed by hosted WordPress.com sites.
It’s a great story. The Automattic team responsible for driving social activity in WordPress sees Jetpack as a way to expand and unify social activity across all WordPress sites, and winds up paving the way for a product that today helps more than 5 million sites with everything from security and performance to backups and integrations.
And what has Jetpack accomplished in those 10 years and 5 million sites? The numbers are staggering:
122 billion blocked malicious login attempts. 9,330,623 of those on CSS-Tricks, as we write.
269 million site backups. Last backup of CSS-Tricks: 3 minutes ago, as we write.
24 trillion images served by Jetpack CDN. Incredibly, a free feature of Jetpack.
61.6 billion site searches. Try site search on this site, the latest release has really nice UI & UX improvements, like seeing the post thumbnail.
50 billion related posts displayed. Related posts plugins are notoriously heavy on the server, but not when you let Jetpack do it!
1.6 trillion tracked page views. Those are the numbers at work here with WordPress being some 40% of the web.
But one powerful feature we haven’t talked much about is Jetpack Backup and whoo-boy is it awesome. Sure, code is pretty easy to back up — we’ve got GitHub for that. But what about your assets, like images and other files? Or, gosh, what about the database? These things are super important and losing them would be, well, devastating!
Enter Jetpack Backup. It copies all that stuff, offering two plans, including one for daily backups and the other for real-time backups. Most sites can probably get away with daily backups, but it’s nice to know there’s a real-time option, especially if you’re running an active site, like forums where updates happen regularly, or some eCommerce shop where restoring lost orders would be crucial.
Another thing that makes Jetpack Backup great: it’s sold à la carte. So if backups are all you want from Jetpack, then you can get just that and that alone. But if you need additional features, like all the ones we use around here, then they’re easily accessible and enabled with a few clicks.
You even get a little activity log which is nice to not just see what’s happening on your site, but because it’s another way to pinpoint where things might have gone wrong.
So, yeah, check it out! If you want a deep dive into how it all works, here’s Chris walking through our setup.
Jetpack 8.9 shipped on September 1 and it shows why the plugin continues to be the premier way to take a WordPress site from good to holy smokes! Several new features are packed into the release, but a few really stand out.
Take donations with a new block
The first is donations, and a quick demo of how easy it is to drop a donation form into a page is going to excite anyone who has ever had to cobble together multiple third party scripts and tools to get something like this on a site.
That’s right — it’s as easy as any other block and it connects directly to your Stripe account when you upgrade to a Jetpack paid plan. Non-profits are sure to love this, but even if you’re a plugin developer looking for a way to collect “tips” in exchange for your work, you’ll get a lot of mileage out of something like this.
I’d drop a donations block right here to show you, but if you’re so inclined (😍) we have a MVP supporter thing set up that handles that, which is powered by WooCommerce Memberships.
Collect newsletter signups and automate email marketing
Another feature that stands out is a newsletter signup form. Instead of relying on another plugin for form functionality and another to connect the form to an email newsletter service, Jetpack handles it all with a new block that not only collects subscribers, but integrates directly with Creative Mail by Constant Contact.
That means you not only take signups directly from your site, but you get a way to pull WordPress content and WooCommerce products into emails that support all kinds of automatons, like scheduled sends, action-based triggers, and multi-step marketing journeys. It’s a lot of power in a single package!
It’s worth noting that the newsletter form is in addition to a growing number of forms that are built right into Jetpack, including RSVP, contact, registration, feedback, and appointments.
AMP-ify your content
There isn’t a whole lot of details on this feature, but it certainly warrants attention. Automattic and Google have been working closely together the past several months to ship the 2.0 version of the official AMP plugin for WordPress.
The plan is for the Jetpack team to write up a detailed post sometime soon that thoroughly outlines the integration. Just a guess? Perhaps Jetpack blocks will natively support valid AMP markup in way that maintains the functionality while meeting AMP’s performance standards. We’ll see!
CRM meaning “Customer Relationship Management” if you’re like me and this is a little outside your sphere of everyday software. CRMs are big business though. When I lived in Silicon Valley, I would regularly drive by a very large building bearing the name of a CRM company that you’ve definitely heard of.
The name is a good one since CRMs are for helping you manage your customers. I have a brother-in-law who sells office furniture. He definitely uses a CRM. He gets leads for new clients, he helps figure out what they need, gets them quotes, and deals with billing them. It sounds straightforward, but it kinda isn’t. CRMs are complicated. Who better to bring you a good CRM than someone who brings you a good CMS?
The fact is that people are different and businesses are different, means that rather than forcing your business to behave like a CRM thinks it should, the CRM should flex to what you need. Jetpack CRM calls it a DIY CRM:
We let entrepreneurs pick and choose only what they need.
What appeals to me about Jetpack CRM is that you can leverage software that you already have and use. I swear the older I get the more cautious I become about adding major new software products to my life. There are always learning curves that are steeper than you want, gotchas you didn’t forsee, and maintenance you end up loathing. The idea of adding major new functionality under the WordPress roof feels much better to me. Everytime I do that with WordPress, I end up thinking it was the right move. I’ve done it now with both forums, newsletters, and eCommerce and each time was great.
I think it’s a smart move for Automattic. People should be able to do just about anything with their website, especially when it has the power of a login system, permission system, database, and all this infrastructure ready to go like any given WordPress site has. A CRM is a necessary thing for a lot of businesses and now Automattic has an answer to that.
Speaking of all the modularity of turning on and off features, you can also select a level that, essentially, specifies how much you want Jetpack CRM to take over your WordPress admin.
If running a CRM is the primary thing you’re doing with your WordPress site, Jetpack CRM can kinda take over and make the admin primarily that with the “CRM Only” setting. Or, just augment the admin and leave everything else as-is with the “Full” setting.
Like most things Jetpack these days, this is an ala-carte purchase if you need features beyond what the free plan offers. It’s not bundled with any other Jetpack stuff.
It’s also like WooCommerce in that there are a bunch of extensions for it that you only have to buy if you need them. For example, the $ 49 Gravity Forms extension allows you to build your lead forms with the Gravity Forms plugin, or it comes bundled in any of the paid plans. The $ 39 MailChimp plugin connects new leads to MailChimp lists.
“There’s a massive opportunity for CRM in the WordPress space,” said Stott. “A CRM is not like installing an SEO plugin on every website you own — generally you’d only have a single CRM for your business — but it’s the core of your business. The fact that 3,000+ users and counting are choosing WordPress to run their CRM is a great start.”
I’m a pretty heavy Jetpack user myself, using almost all it’s features.
Just to be clear, this isn’t some new feature of the core Jetpack plugin that’ll just show up on your site when you upgrade versions. It’s a totally separate product. In fact, the plugin folder you install to is called “zero-bs-crm,” the original name of the product.
I was able to install and play around with it right here on CSS-Tricks with no trouble at all. Being able to create invoices right here on the site is pretty appealing to me, so I’ll be playing with that some more.
Fresh from the Jetpack team at Automattic, today, comes Jetpack Scan. Jetpack Scan scans all the files on your site looking for anything suspicious or malicious and lets you know, or literally fixes it for you with your one-click approval.
This kind of security scanning is very important to me. It’s one of those sleep better at night features, where I know I’m doing all I can do for the safety of my site.
It’s not fun to admit, but I bet in my decade-and-a-half of building WordPress sites, I’ve had half a dozen of them probably have some kind of malicious thing happen. It’s been a long time because I know more, take security way more seriously, and use proper tooling like this to make sure it can’t. But an example is that a malicious actor somehow edits files on your site. One edit to your wp-config.php file could easily take down your site. One edit to your single.php file could put malicious/spammy content on every single blog post. One sketchy plugin can literally do anything to your site. I want to know when any foul play is detected like this.
I’m comforted by the idea that it is Automattic themselves who are checking my site every day and making sure it is clean. Aside from the fact that this is a paid service so they have all that incentive to make sure this does its job, they have the reputation of WordPress itself to uphold here, which is the kind of alignment I like to see in products.
If you’re a user or are familiar with VaultPress, which did backups and security scans, this is an evolution of that. This brings that world into a new dashboard on Jetpack.com (for scans and backup), meaning you can manage all this right from there. Note that this dashboard is for new customers of Jetpack Scan and Backup right now and will soon be available for all existing customers also.
This is also another step toward more à la carte offerings from Jetpack. If you only want this feature and not anything else Jetpack offers, well, you’re in luck. Just like backups, that’s how this feature is sold. Want it? Pay just for it. Don’t want it? Don’t pay for it.
Jetpack has had a search feature for a while. Flip it on, and it replaces your built-in WordPress search (which is functional, but not particularly good) with an Elasticsearch-powered solution that is faster and has better results. I’ve been using that for quite a while here on CSS-Tricks, which was an upgrade from using a Google Custom Search Engine.
Jetpack just upped their game again with a brand new search upgrade. You can use Jetpack search how you were already, or you can flip on Instant Search and take advantage of this all-new search experience (inside and out).
A Full Page Experience
Instant Search provides a full page-covering search experience. I think it’s awesome. When a user is searching, that’s the mindset they are in and giving them all the space they need to accomplish that goal is great. Here’s me searching (video):
Best I can tell, CSS-Tricks gets a couple hundred thousand on-site searches per month, so having a great experience there is very important to me. I don’t even wanna mess around with bad on-site search experiences, or products that are too expensive. I’d rather send people to a site-scoped Google search than a bad on-site search. Fortunately, Instant Search is about as good of an on-site search experience as I can imagine, especially for the zero-work it takes to implement.
You have some control over the look of things from the Customizer.
Instant Search is designed to work on any site, so you probably don’t need to do much. I was really surprised how well it worked out-of-the-box for CSS-Tricks. As a CSS control freak, I did ship a handful of design tweaks to it, but that’s just because I love doing that kind of thing.
Tweaks No Longer Needed
With the previous version of Jetpack Search, I had custom code in place to tweak Elasticsearch. I did things like factoring in comment counts as an indicator of popularity, so that I could be sure our best content was high in the results. Remember as powerful as this search is, it doesn’t have a model of the entire internet to calculate relevancy from like Google does. Good news though:
To further improve our search algorithm, we started experimenting with adding the percentage of pageviews from the past 30 days into the index. We ended up finding that pageviews are a much better ranking signal because it somewhat combines both popularity and recency. So now most of our result ranking is strongly influenced by the number of pageviews a post or page gets. Conveniently, if you get a lot of Google Search traffic, our search results should be heavily influenced by Google’s ranking algorithm.
Emphasis mine. With Jetpack Instant Search, I was able to rip all that custom code out (removing code always feels great) because the new algorithms are doing a great job with ranking results.
Now Jetpack Search is ala-carte rather than baked into specific plans. Don’t need it, you don’t pay for it? Only need this feature? You can buy it regardless of what plan you are on.
I’m told the pricing is about scope. Jetpack plans are about features, not scale of site, but that doesn’t make much sense for search where the scale of the site matters a ton. So it’s a sliding scale based on the “records” you have, which are basically posts and pages.
I would think a lot of sites fall into the $ 25/month (15% off for annual) category. You probably mostly start caring about on-site search above 1,000 records and 10,000 records is a ton. I pay for the tier one up from that (~$ 612 a year) only because our (now archived) bbPress forums pushes the number over 10,000. That’s a perfectly fair price for this for a site like mine.
My #1 thing is that I wish it was easy to remove certain things from search results. We have tons and tons of records from our bbPress forums that I made the (hard) call to close this year. Removing those records would pull me down into a smaller pricing tier, but more importantly, I’d rather just not show those results in search at all.
It’s not just CSS-Tricks being in an unusual situation. I’ve also turned on Jetpack Instant Search on the CodePen Documentation.
In that circumstance, I’d consider turning removing blog posts (believe it or not) from the search results, so instead just the Pages would show up which are our core documentation there. Or perhaps even better, blog posts are just turned off as a filter by default, but users could flip them on to see them in the results.
All in all, this is a huge upgrade to Jetpack and yet another reason I consider it the most important plugin I run on my WordPress sites. If you’re curious about other Jetpack features we use, we made a special page for that.
One of the many (many) useful things that Jetpack does is give you extra-fancy custom blocks in the WordPress block (AKA Gutenberg) editor: a slideshow, business hours, contact info, GIF, Mailchimp, Map, Markdown, Pinterest, Star Rating, Recurring Payments Button, Repeat Visitor, Simple Payments Button, Tiled Gallery. All of those sound useful to me, especially to use within totally arbitrary content wherever I want them.
The WordPress ecosystem has a plentiful supply of plugins that offer everything from AMP to Zapier integration and so, so, so many other things in between. It’s a significant contributor to what makes WordPress great because plugins can account for the needs of nearly any website.
How many plugins are installed on your WordPress site? Five? Fifteen? Fifty? We’ve been up to 31 plugins here at CSS-Tricks and we rely on them for everything from content delivery to performance. Why rebuild the wheel if you don’t have to right? It’s simply too easy and convenient to reach for something someone else has already created (and for free).
Whether you have a handful or a truckload of plugins, you know that each one adds a little bit of complexity to your site, especially when it comes to maintenance and updates. It’s not uncommon to see that little badge at the top of the WordPress admin bar displaying a number of available plugin updates that are ready to install. The problem is that it can happen a lot and staying on top of updates turns almost into a game of Whack-a-Mole that not only eats up time, but risks conflicts on your site that could break things. Plugins are great! But mashing up code from third-party authors is always a (often slight) possibility.
One way to cut down on the number of plugins: Jetpack. It’s a single plugin that provides the features and functionality of dozens. the number of plugins on CSS-Tricks would likely be much higher if we weren’t relying on it for blocking spam comments, security scans, search, social sharing, post subscriptions, and displaying related posts… just to name a few. Jetpack is literally capable of so much that’s hard to contain in a single post. We’ve outlined our favorites, though. And we can’t recommend it enough.
To paraphrase Seinfeld, “we know how to fight page weight issues; we just don’t use the tools we have to fight page weight issues.”
That’s why Jetpack provides powerful features for all users at any plan level. They made it so that performance is integrated right into managing content on a WordPress site.
One of those things is lazy loading images. Lazy loading is an excellent technique to defer loading images until they are actually needed. So, an image never loads until the user actually scrolls to where it comes into display. That could potentially save a ton of server requests and precious bytes when waiting for a page to load. Jetpack includes lazy loading, even on free plans, so everyone has access to this performance boost.
And what’s the point of lazy loading anything if you don’t have somewhere to host the files? Well, Jetpack also offers unlimited static file and image hosting for every plan level. No more wondering how much storage is left on your server! You get an unlimited amount of space to store anything you need. That’s pretty awesome!
It gets even more awesome. That’s because the unlimited storage is part of a CDN that is designed to serve images from high-speed dedicated data centers that make downloads as fast and smooth as possible. Again, that’s free to everyone!
That makes Jetpack a super resource for combatting performance issues on a WordPress site. Hey, we use Jetpack here at CSS-Tricks and it’s a linchpin for so much of how this site works and operates. The performance benefits are a nice perk but it’s worth checking out everything it has to offer because there’s likely so much more you can leverage.
[Geoff:] I’ve built a fair number of WordPress sites in my day. It’s been my go-to since the 2.x-ish days because it works for any site, big or small. That’s the sort of solution and flexibility you like to have as a freelancer.
Boy, I wish I had Jetpack available in those early days.
Like WordPress itself, Jetpack is a good solution for many, many of the types of things clients are looking for from a WordPress site. I used to spend hours researching the right plugin for a specific feature, whether that was for comment filtering, asset caching, beefier search functionality, creating custom post types on the fly… you name it. All of that — and a heckuva lot more — is included in Jetpack right out of the box.
Here’s what I’m talking about. A friend of mine runs a pop-up gallery here locally. She displays paintings, photographs, sculptures… basically anything super artsy from super talented locals. That includes events, socials, performances and screenings. The wild thing is that it “pops” up in different spots, based on what she’s showing and what public space is available. So, you get how a website would be helpful for visitors to keep tabs on what’s coming up and where things are going to take place, not to mention getting a recap on past events.
We’ve all made sites for friends, right? It’s the kind of thing you do for free on the side. That makes it something you want to do well, but not necessarily spend a ton of time making. That’s where Jetpack really helped me out in this case.
If Jetpack is new to you, it’s a WordPress plugin that, as part of what it does, is bring features from WordPress.com and makes them available on your self-hosted WordPress sites.
For example, my friend really needed to showcase work. This is less of a content site and more of a visual experience, so media plays a big role. Photos, video, audio. You get it. Good thing Jetpack has a “Portfolio” custom post type at the ready.
That’s a perfect start for showing things off, but my friend also needed a carousel to allow visitors to browse photos from events and artist works. This would’ve been something I probably would have turned to the WordPress plugin directory for in the past, or perhaps some (back then) jQuery plugin, but thankfully Jetpack had my back there, too.
While we’re on the topic of media, we know that heavy image files are a recipe for slow sites. There’s a ton of WordPress plugins that can help with caching, gzipping, and even lazy loading, but all that’s already in Jetpack. Why go reinvent the wheel, especially on what’s supposed to be a pretty quick build?
I think you catch my drift. The fact is that Jetpack is an effective way to supercharge a self-hosted WordPress site, connecting it to many of the same powerful services that you’d otherwise need to go to WordPress.com — or gobs of third-party plugins — to get. Plus, it’s built by Automattic, so you know it integrates seamlessly with WordPress. No better confidence than going with something the primary maintainers of WordPress are willing to slap their name on!
Sure, we’ve only looked at a very simple example of how powerful Jetpack is for a small site. But don’t be fooled: Jetpack is capable of handling the needs of large-scale sites as well. In fact, we love Jetpack here at CSS-Tricks because it powers so much of what you see on the site, from social sign-in and automated sharing, to downtime monitoring and site search. It’s robust, dependable, and just gosh darn delightful to use.
And, hey, there’s a free tier you can start using right away and it includes a generous number of features that help with security, performance, analytics, and theming… and it only goes up from there. 🚀