You are probably familiar with avatars.
An avatar is an icon, or representation of a user in a shared virtual reality such as a forum, chat, website, or any other form of online community where the user(s) wish to distinguish themselves from other users.
(Source: WordPress Codex)
The use of avatars has now become standard across the web on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, online directories and many other sites …
(Avatars are used across all user sites on the web)
Using WordPress Gravatars
If you read other people’s WordPress blogs, you will see that WordPress also displays user avatars (e.g. when visitors post comments or engage in online discussions) …
You may be wondering why some users get to display their profile pics or images next to blog posts and comments and some don’t, or perhaps you’ve contributed to an online discussion and wondered why your pic didn’t show up …
This tutorial explains what Gravatars are, how they work and how to set up avatars in WordPress.
Gravatars – What Are They?
WordPress uses a specific kind of avatar called a Gravatar …
(A Gravatar is a special type of avatar for use in WordPress)
Gravatar is short for Globally Recognized Avatar.
Gravatars make it possible for a person to have one avatar across the web. Avatars are usually an image that the user will create themselves. Unlike standard avatars, Gravatars follow you around the web and automatically appear whenever you post a comment on a WordPress site.
Gravatar was acquired in 2007 by Automattic, the company behind WordPress.com. As a result, Gravatars are now integrated into WordPress and millions of avatar images are served billions of times per day across the web. Gravatars are also used by many WordPress users supported on many web platforms.
How Do Gravatars Work?
Once your Gravatar account has been created, the service matches your WordPress profile information to your account email and displays your custom gravatar image next to your comments, articles and (optionally) elsewhere on the WordPress site …
If a visitor has not set up their Gravatar account, the default icon set by the site admin will appear for their entries (see further below).
(Default icon set by site administrator)
Typically, most images use a default avatar (called the “Mystery Man”) …
(Mystery Man Avatar)
If you don’t want your WordPress entries to be associated with a generated icon, then set up your own gravatar.
Benefits Of Using Gravatars
A Gravatar is essentially the same thing as an avatar, but gravatars are hosted on a single server and are called up by encrypting the users’ email address using a special algorithm.
Instead of creating different avatars for every new site you belong to, you could display the same avatar on all of the sites that you visit.
Enabling gravatars on your WordPress site also simplifies the process for everyone involved:
WP Admin Benefits
- Gravatars require very little effort to administer.
- Gravatars require no additional plugins.
- Gravatars are portable across the web. You don’t have to manage user accounts or edit user images, to allow visitors to use Gravatars on your site.
WP User Benefits
- Having a Gravatar account saves you having to create an avatar on every site you join or service you register for.
- Users can update their Gravatar across multiple sites from a central location.
The step-by-step tutorial below explains how to set up and use Gravatars in WordPress.
How To Add A Gravatar To WordPress – Tutorial
To start using Gravatars, first go here to create an account (it’s FREE): http://www.gravatar.com
Log in with your WordPress.com account details …
If you don’t have a WordPress.com account, you can register for one on the site …
Once you have verified and set up your account, follow the instructions to complete your profile, and select the email address and image you want associated with your Gravatar.
Upload your Gravatar image …
(Gravatar offers you several image uploading options)
Add your photo, then crop and save it …
Select one of the available ratings for your Gravatar …
(Rate your Gravatar picture)
You can access and update your own account anytime …
You can further edit your profile by associating your Gravatar with an email, website, location and a brief bio …
Once you are done setting up your account, your Gravatar will follow you around the web.
It will be displayed in blog comments, web forums, etc …
Your Gravatar will also show up inside your own WordPress dashboard, in your user account …
And every time you login …
Managing Gravatar Settings in WordPress
Although WordPress now automatically integrates with Gravatars, you can manage some of the settings:
- Whether Avatars (aka, Gravatars) show on your site or not.
- Which rating of Avatars are displayed.
To control how your Gravatar is used, log in as an administrator and go to the Settings > Discussion administration panel …
(WordPress Discussion Settings)
Scroll down to the Avatars section …
You will be presented with several options:
- Avatar Display: Here you can toggle Gravatars on and off for your site.
- Maximum Rating: When users create a profile on Gravatar, they are given the opportunity to rate their image (i.e. G, PG, R, X) based on its appropriateness. Here you can choose the maximum rating you will allow on your site.
- Default Avatar: WordPress lets you select what type of image you would like to display when users do not have a Gravatar. Selecting one of the generated icons gives users a default avatar without requiring them to have a Gravatar account. Generated icons link the email of the post commenter to an auto-generated image. Now, every time that person posts on your site, they will have the same image next to their name.
Remember to save your changes when done …
WordPress Gravatars – Tips
By default, Gravatar images display at a fixed size. To change the default image size, code editing would be required.
Also, various WordPress plugins have been developed to extend the use of Gravatars. you can see which plugins are available inside your dashboard by searching for the keyword gravatar …
(Search for gravatar-enhancing plugins inside your WordPress plugin dashboard)
For example, you can a feature called a Gravatar Hovercard to your blog using a WordPress plugin called Jetpack.
A Gravatar Hovercard allows your profile to be made visible to others and makes it easier for people to find your blog or access your identity on services like Facebook, Twitter, or Linkedin.
A Gravatar Hovercard is typically a feature of WordPress.com (the hosted version of WordPress). You can add Gravatar Hovercards to your self-hosted site, however, if you install a powerful, feature-rich WordPress plugin called Jetpack …
(WordPress Plugin: Jetpack – Gravatar Hovercards)
After installing the Jetpack plugin on your site and activating the Gravatar Hovercards feature, a Gravatar Hovercards entry will appear on your Discussion Settings > Avatars admin area. This allows you to enable the display of people’s profiles when someone hovers over a Gravatar image …
(WordPress Discussion Settings Screen – Gravatar Hovercards)
If this feature has been activated, then if visitors hover over your Gravatar …
(Hover the mouse over a Gravatar to display Gravatar Hovercards)
Your Gravatar Hovercard will appear, allowing people to click through to your profile and learn more about you …
Add A Custom Gravatar To WordPress
You can replace the default user gravatar on your site for users that don’t have a gravatar set up. To learn how to add a custom gravatar to WordPress, see the tutorial below:
Hopefully this tutorial has helped you learn what a Gravatar is and how to use them in WordPress.
Gravatar logo source: simpleicons.org. Avatar movie references used for illustrative purposes only. All copyright belongs to their respective owners.
"These tutorials have so much information and are easy to understand. If you use WordPress or plan to in the future these will help you with everything you need to know." - Valisa (Mesa, Arizona)