Even if you’ve been using it for years, you might be unfamiliar with some of Jetpack’s features. With the wide range of capabilities offered, it’s too easy for some of the coolest — and perhaps the most useful — tools to go unnoticed.
Today we’re going to look at four features that are lesser known, but just as powerful as those you might already be familiar with. These features will ultimately enhance your WordPress site in new ways, from improving its design to taking the hassle out of maintenance.
Bundled free and premium WordPress themes
If you haven’t been keeping up with our blog in these last few months, you may have missed the news that Jetpack now includes more than 160 themes. These are all professional themes created with a focus on quality design and aesthetic — and they’re free for anyone to use. To sort through the options you have available, navigate to Appearance > Themes > Add New.
With so many themes to choose from, there’s no reason to settle on a theme that doesn’t align with your business. If you own a vibrant flower shop, you probably wouldn’t choose a theme with a dark color scheme. A flower shop owner can browse through all these themes to find a new look for their site that is fresh, bright, and allows plenty of space for photos of their arrangements.
One enhanced feature of these bundled themes is the catalog browser experience. The Jetpack theme catalog not only includes standard Preview and Install options, but also has several additional features:
- Live Demo — an interactive version of each theme that displays sample content, allowing you to visualize how your copywriting, images, and widgets will appear.
- Try & Customize — try customizing a theme you like before you apply it, and explore how your current content will look with each theme.
- Info — read a description of each theme, or view helpful videos and tips to optimize each one.
- Support — access additional resources for implementing your themes, including links to forums.
A fresh site design attracts more visitors that will explore your pages for longer amounts of time. Many themes can also extend the functionality of your site, providing new tools that better serve your audience, like special photo galleries and comment sections.
If the 100+ free themes included with Jetpack aren’t enough, you can get even more: upgrade to Jetpack Professional and you’ll also have access to over 200 premium themes. Read more about these themes and Jetpack Professional right here.
Automatic plugin updates
Want to save time running and maintaining your site? Jetpack can enable automatic updates for WordPress and your plugins.
In today’s connected world, it’s more important than ever to have the latest security tools in place. Automatic updates offer you a high level of security without having to implement it yourself. Whether you’re writing blog posts for fun or are running a business site, you shouldn’t spend valuable time worrying about plugins and keeping them up to date.
You can learn how to enable automatic updates with Jetpack here. Note that these updates are only available for those plugins hosted within the WordPress.org plugin repository.
With the Automatic Plugin Updates feature enabled, you can sit back, relax, and focus your time on completing important business tasks instead of worrying about security and site management.
Visibility options for your widgets
Even if you’re a Jetpack expert, you might not know that it adds a “Visibility” button to your WordPress widgets. Widget Visibility offers another level of control over how and where your widgets are displayed. This lesser-known Jetpack feature is enabled by default.
With Widget Visibility, you decide whether or not to display a widget based on a variety of criteria. For example, you can display a small contact form on the sidebar of your pages, but hide it on your “Contact Us” page where a full sized form appears. You could also display or hide text widgets — for example, show a widget with a writer’s bio if the author is “Lance Cleveland” and the category is “Jetpack.”
Filters that you can use to hide or display widgets include Category, Author, User, Role, Tag, Date, Page, and Taxonomy. Some of these options have further finesses, like page or post type.
Implementing Widget Visibility is a great way to build a better user experience for your visitors. Less clutter ensures your message is clear and concise on every page, which leads to more visitor interactions — always a good thing.
The Infinite Scroll option
One final Jetpack feature you may not be familiar with: Infinite Scroll. This is a great option designed to improve the user experience and also increase the time visitors spend on your site.
Typically, themes are configured to display posts by listing them throughout a series of pages. Visitors are presented with a list of articles, including the title and a preview, followed by a list of page numbers linking to more articles. This process is slower than it needs to be, as it requires reloading the entire page when a link is clicked.
With Infinite Scroll, a new page is replaced with a button or a “scroll interaction,” which loads the next set of articles on the same page as the initial set. The content is displayed immediately after the last article, eliminating the need to reload the header, sidebar, and other page elements. It creates less stress on your server, and your readers receive content faster.
If your theme supports it, you can also use the “as the reader scrolls down” mode that comes with Infinite Scroll. This is a natural experience for mobile and tablet users that also works well on laptops and desktops. As a reader scrolls down the page, Jetpack detects when they reach the final article and automatically loads the next set.
Infinite Scroll makes your site significantly more user-friendly, which in turn encourages visitors to spend more time on it. This can help you succeed in building a loyal audience for your blog, or enticing future shoppers to support your business.
Take your site to the next level with Jetpack’s features
Themes, Automatic Plugin Updates, Widget Visibility, and Infinite Scroll are just a few of the lesser-known tricks that Jetpack has up its sleeve. While there are far too many amazing Jetpack features to cover in a single article, the capabilities we explored above can take your site to the next level.
Which one of these features are you most excited to try? Experiment with one of them now and discover the unique experience that your site can offer visitors.