If you’ve used WordPress for any amount of time, you’ve no doubt heard of a plugin called Jetpack. This plugin is Automattic’s go-to plugin for all of the functionality that they choose not to bundle within WordPress core. It has a lot of useful functionality such as stats, social media posting, subscriptions, and more. It’s also a huge mess.
While some of the functionality that you get from Jetpack is useful, the trade offs are far from worth it.
You have to register to use it
You are required to create a WordPress.com account to use the modules on this plugin. The only reason for this is so that Automattic can advertise certain products to you and track your usage, and it provides no value to you. Only the inconvenience of creating yet another online account.
Most of the modules come pre-activated
A module is kind of like a sub-plugin. Jetpack comes with 32 modules such as stats, publicize (the ability to post to Facebook or Twitter directly), or improved comments. Most people only end up using one or two of them at a time. However, all but 6 0r 6 modules are automatically activated once you register, meaning that you load more resources on the front end of your site and have a lot more to configure. Even worse, you can’t de-activate many of these modules without using a snippet to expressly prohibit them.
It kills site performance
Because of the above point, you end up with a LOT more resources then you need being loaded on each and every page of your website and this hurts your loading times. To prove this point, I created an empty WordPress install on our development server and ran some tests using Pingdom’s speed test tool.
This is the base install, running the twentyfourteen theme without caching or any plugins activated at all.
Next, I installed Jetpack and activated it with WordPress.com. I didn’t manually activate any modules – this is a base Jetpack install.
We’re starting to get slower now. Those extra 9 resources (almost double our base install!) nearly doubled the load times on the web site. It’s still rather quick, but the comparable performance hit is immense.
Next, I decided to see what would happen if I activated all of those extra modules.
That got nasty real quick. This result actually surprised me quite a bit. We’ve nearly quadrupled the amount of resources and added a whole second to the load time.
As you can see, Jetpack adds unneeded load time to your site with very little gain for all that extra time. The main problem here is that most people don’t need 90% of those resources. It’s very poor coding to just activate everything automatically with no concern for what’s actually needed.
The UI is very disparate from WordPress
This one surprises me a lot. Jetpack is written by the same people who work on WordPress every day and maintain it: Automattic. Yet, the experience is very different from the normal WordPress one and can be frustrating to figure out if you’re new to the WordPress world. On top of that, it hooks into the top of your admin menu when it’s far less important than your posts, pages, or settings.
All of this being said, the modules in Jetpack are very useful. Despite some of the performance issues and the way they choose to handle registration, they are also well-written. Jetpack isn’t evil, it just has enough issues that we’ve come to the conclusion that it’s not worth the tradeoff. If you’re looking for a good list of alternatives for individual modules, you can find one here.