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 profile images has now become mainstream on social web channels like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, online directories and other sites …
(Avatars are used across all user sites on the web)
Using WordPress Gravatars
If you read blogs, you will see that WordPress sometimes also displays avatars (e.g. when users post comments or engage in online discussions) …
You may be wondering why some blog posts and discussions display photos or images in some entries and others don’t, or perhaps you’ve left a comment on someone else’s blog and wondered why your image displayed as a grey blob while others got to show their pictures …
This tutorial explains what Gravatars are, how they work and how to add avatars in WordPress.
What’s A Gravatar?
WordPress uses a specific kind of avatar called a Gravatar …
(A Gravatar is a special kind of avatar for use in WordPress)
Gravatar is short for Globally Recognized Avatar.
Gravatars allow web users to have one avatar used across the entire 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.com was acquired in 2007 by Automattic, the company behind WordPress. As a result, Gravatars are now integrated into every WordPress site and millions of avatar images are served billions of times per day across the web. Gravatars are also supported on many technologies.
How Do Gravatars Work?
Once your Gravatar account has been created, the service matches your profile information to the email associated with your account and displays your custom gravatar image next to your comments, articles and (optionally) elsewhere on the WordPress site …
If a site chooses not to sign up with Gravatar, the default icon set by the WP site admin will appear on their comments (we explain this further below).
(Default avatar set by site administrator)
Typically, the default avatar most commonly used is called the “Mystery Man” …
(Mystery Man Avatar)
If you don’t want your entries to be associated with a default icon, then the easiest thing to do is set up a gravatar with your own image.
Why Use Gravatars
A Gravatar is basically 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 create an account with, you could have the same avatar display on all of the web properties that you visit.
Enabling gravatars on your WordPress site also simplifies the process for everyone involved:
Site Administrator Benefits
- Gravatars require very little effort to manage.
- Gravatars require no additional plugins.
- Gravatars are visually portable across the web. You don’t need to manage user accounts or edit user images, to allow people to use Gravatars on your site.
WordPress User Benefits
- Having a Gravatar account saves you from uploading a new avatar on every site you join or service you register for.
- Users can update their Gravatar across multiple sites from a central location.
Complete the step-by-step tutorial below to learn more about setting up and using a Gravatar.
How To Add Gravatars To Your Site – Step-By-Step Tutorial
To start using Gravatars, first create an account here (it’s FREE): http://www.gravatar.com
Sign in with your WordPress.com account details …
If you don’t have a WordPress.com account, you can register for one on the Gravatar site …
Once you have verified and set up your account, follow the instructions to complete your profile, and choose the email address and image you want associated with your Gravatar.
You will be asked to upload an image …
(Upload your Gravatar image)
Add your photo, then crop and save it …
Select one of the available ratings for your Gravatar …
(Gravatar image ratings)
You can access and manage your own account anytime …
You can edit your profile further by associating your Gravatar with an email, website, location and a brief description about yourself …
Once you have finished editing your details and setting up your account, your Gravatar will be integrated with your WordPress account and follow you around the web.
It will be displayed in your post comments, forums, etc …
Your Gravatar will also show up inside your own dashboard, in your user account …
And every time you log back into your site …
How To Manage Gravatar Settings in WordPress
Although WordPress now automatically integrates with Gravatars, you can manage the following settings:
- Whether Avatars (aka, Gravatars) show on your site or not.
- Avatar ratings filter.
To control how your Gravatar is used, log in as an administrator and go to the Settings > Discussion area …
(Discussion Settings Menu)
Scroll down to the Avatars section …
The Avatars section provides you with several options:
- Avatar Display: This section lets you 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 Gravatar image (i.e. G, PG, R, X) based on its appropriateness. This section lets you choose the maximum rating you will allow on your site.
- Default Avatar: WordPress allows you to 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. 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 …
Using WordPress Gravatars – Additional Tips
By default, Gravatar images display at a fixed size. To customize the default image size, you would need to edit code in your template files.
Also, various WordPress plugins have been developed to extend the use of Gravatars. These are available inside your dashboard by typing in the keyword gravatar inside the plugin search field …
(Search for gravatar-enhancing plugins inside your WordPress plugin dashboard)
For example, you can a feature called a Gravatar Hovercard to your WordPress site using a plugin called Jetpack.
A Gravatar Hovercard allows your information 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.
Gravatar Hovercards are a feature of WordPress.com (the hosted version of WordPress). You can add Gravatar Hovercards to a self-hosted WordPress installation, however, if you install the versatile, feature-rich Jetpack plugin …
(Jetpack – Gravatar Hovercards)
After installing the Jetpack plugin on your site and activating the Gravatar Hovercards feature, a new entry will show up in your Discussion Settings > Avatars screen. This allows you to display user profiles when someone hovers over a Gravatar image with their mouse …
(WordPress Discussion Settings – Gravatar Hovercards)
If you activate this feature, then if visitors hover over your Gravatar …
(Hover the mouse over a Gravatar to display a Gravatar Hovercard)
Your Gravatar Hovercard will pop up, allowing people to 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 Gravatars are and how to get your picture showing up all across the web.
Gravatar logo source: simpleicons.org. Avatar movie references used for illustrative purposes only. All copyright belongs to their respective owners.
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