No doubt, you’re 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)
Avatars have now become the standard across the web on social web accounts like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, online directories and loads of web properties …
(Avatars are used all over the web)
Using WordPress Gravatars
If you read other WordPress blogs, you will see that WordPress also displays avatar images (e.g. when visitors post comments or engage in online discussions) …
You may have wondered why many blog posts and comments show profile photos in some entries while others don’t, or perhaps you’ve left a comment on someone else’s blog and wondered why your profile image appeared all greyed out …
In this tutorial you are going to learn about Gravatars, how Gravatars work and how to use avatars in WordPress.
Gravatar – What Is It?
WordPress uses a specific type of avatar called a Gravatar …
(A Gravatar is a special kind of avatar for use with WordPress)
Gravatar stands 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 by many technology platforms.
How Do Gravatars Work?
Once registered with Gravatar, the service matches your profile information to the email registered in your account and displays your custom gravatar image next to your entries, articles and (optionally) elsewhere on the WordPress site …
If a site does not have a Gravatar account set up, the default avatar set by the site administrator will appear on their comments (see further below).
(Default avatar set by WP site administrator)
Typically, most images use a default avatar (called the “Mystery Man”) …
If you don’t want your entries to display with a generated icon, then the easiest thing to do is set up your own gravatar.
Benefits Of Using A Gravatar
A Gravatar is basically the same thing as an avatar, but the images 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, gravatars allow you to 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:
Site Administrator Benefits
- Gravatars require very little effort to administer.
- There is no need to maintain additional plugins.
- Gravatars are visually portable across the web. You don’t need to manage user accounts or edit user images, to allow post commenters to use Gravatars on your site.
WP User Benefits
- Having a Gravatar account saves users creating an avatar on every site they join or service they register for.
- Users can update their Gravatar across multiple sites from their account.
The step-by-step tutorial below shows you how to set up and use a Gravatar.
How To Add A Gravatar To Your Site – A Step-By-Step Tutorial
To start using Gravatars, you will first need to create an account here: http://www.gravatar.com
Sign in with your WordPress.com account details …
If you don’t have a WordPress.com account, you can sign up 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 various image uploading options)
Add your image, then crop and save it …
Choose one of the available ratings for your Gravatar …
You can access and change your own account anytime …
You can edit your profile further by associating your Gravatar with an email, website, location and a brief bio …
Once you have finished editing your details and setting up your account, your Gravatar will begin following you around the web.
It will be displayed in blog comments, web forums, etc …
Your Gravatar will also display inside your own WordPress dashboard, in your user profile …
And every time you login …
How To Manage Gravatar Settings
Although WordPress sites now automatically integrate using Gravatars, you can change some of the settings:
- Whether Avatars (aka, Gravatars) show on your site or not.
- Which rating of Avatars are displayed.
To manage how your Gravatar is used, log into your WP admin area and go to the Settings > Discussion area …
(Discussion Settings Menu)
Scroll down the page to the Avatars section …
You will be presented with a number of options:
- Avatar Display: Specify whether to show Avatars or not.
- Maximum Rating: When users create a profile on Gravatar, they are given the opportunity to give their Gravatar a rating (i.e. G, PG, R, X) based on 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 account. Selecting one of the generated icons gives users a default avatar. Generated icons link the email of the user to an auto-generated image. Now, every time that same person posts on your site, the same image will display next to their name.
Remember to click the Save Changes button when finished to save your new settings …
WordPress Gravatars – Tips
By default, Gravatars display at a fixed size. To customize the default image size, code editing would be required.
Also, a number of WordPress plugins have been developed to extend the functionality of Gravatars. you can see which plugins 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 blog using a 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.
Gravatar Hovercards are a feature of WordPress.com (the hosted version of WordPress). You can, however, add Gravatar Hovercards to a self-hosted website or blog if you install the powerful (and free) Jetpack plugin …
(Jetpack WordPress Plugin – Gravatar Hovercards)
After installing Jetpack on your site and activating the Gravatar Hovercards feature, a Gravatar Hovercards item will be added to your Discussion Settings > Avatars section. This allows you to enable the display of visitor profiles when someone hovers over a Gravatar with their mouse …
(WordPress Discussion Settings – Gravatar Hovercards)
If this feature has been activated, then if visitors hover over your Gravatar …
(Hovering the mouse over a Gravatar displays Gravatar Hovercards)
Your Gravatar Hovercard will display, allowing people to see your profile and learn a little 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 article has helped you learn what Gravatars are 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)