An integrated study of compact stellarator power plants, ARIES-CS, has been conducted to explore attractive compact stellarator configurations and to define key research and development (R&D) areas. The large size and mass predicted by earlier stellarator power plant studies had led to cost projections much higher than those of the advanced tokamak power plant. As such, the first major goal of the ARIES-CS research was to investigate if stellarator power plants can be made to be comparable in size to advanced tokamak variants while maintaining desirable stellarator properties. As stellarator fusion core components would have complex shapes and geometry, the second major goal of the ARIES-CS study was to understand and quantify, as much as possible, the impact of the complex shape and geometry of fusion core components. This paper focuses on the directions we pursued to optimize the compact stellarator as a fusion power plant, summarizes the major findings from the study, highlights the key design aspects and constraints associated with a compact stellarator, and identifies the major issues to help guide future R&D.