Most internet users are 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 mainstream on social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, online forums and loads of web properties …
(Avatars are used across all user sites on the web)
Using WordPress Gravatars
If you regularly visit other WordPress sites, you will see that WordPress also displays user profile images (e.g. when visitors post comments or engage in online discussions) …
You may be wondering why a number of users display their pics or images on their blog posts and discussions, while with others, all you see is a grey image or some weird icon with their discussions, or perhaps you’ve contributed to an online discussion and wondered why your picture didn’t show up …
This tutorial explains what Gravatars are, how they work and how to use avatars in WordPress.
What’s A Gravatar?
WordPress uses a special type of avatar called a Gravatar …
(A Gravatar is a special type of avatar used in WordPress)
Gravatar is short for Globally Recognized Avatar.
Gravatars allow web users 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.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 web technologies.
How Do Gravatars Work?
Once registered with Gravatar, the service matches your WordPress profile information to the email registered in your account and displays your custom gravatar image next to your post discussions, articles and (optionally) elsewhere on the WordPress site …
If a site chooses not to sign up with Gravatar, the default avatar set by the WP site admin will be associated with their entries (this is explained further below).
(Default icon set by site administrator)
Typically, most images use a default avatar (often called the “Mystery Man”) …
If you don’t want your WordPress entries to display with a generated icon, then the easiest thing to do is set up a 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 having one avatar display on a forum that you often drop into and another avatar displaying on a blog that you are a registered member of, 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:
Benefits for Site Administrators
- Adding user Gravatars requires very little effort.
- There is no need to maintain additional plugins.
- Gravatars are portable across the web. You don’t need to manage user accounts or their images, to allow people to use Gravatars on your site.
- Users don’t have to register on every site they visit just to use a Gravatar.
- Users can update their Gravatar across multiple sites from their account.
Complete the step-by-step tutorial below to learn how to set up and use Gravatars.
How To Add Gravatars To Your Site – Step-By-Step Tutorial
To use Gravatars, first first you will need 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 easily sign up 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 to associate with your Gravatar.
Upload your Gravatar image …
(Gravatar offers a number of image uploading options)
After uploading your image, crop and save it …
Select a rating for your Gravatar …
(Rate your Gravatar image)
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 begin following you around the web.
It will be displayed in blog comments, forums, etc …
Your Gravatar will also display inside your own WordPress dashboard, in your user account …
And every time you log back in …
Managing Gravatar Settings in WordPress
Although WordPress now automatically integrates with Gravatars, you can change some of the settings:
- Whether Avatars (aka, Gravatars) show on your site or not.
- Avatar ratings filter.
To control how your Gravatar is used, log into your WP dashboard and go to the Settings > Discussion area …
Scroll down the page to the Avatars section …
The Avatars section provides you with the following options:
- Avatar Display: Specify whether to display Gravatars 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 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 their own Gravatar account. Generated icons link the email of the post commenter to an auto-generated image. Now, every time that commenter posts on your site, the same image will display next to their name.
Remember to save your changes when finished …
WordPress Gravatars – Tips
By default, WordPress displays Gravatar images at a fixed size. To change the default image size, code editing would be required.
Also, many additional WordPress plugins have been developed to enhance the use of Gravatars. These are available inside your dashboard by typing in ”gravatar” inside the plugin search field …
(Search for gravatar-related plugins inside your WordPress plugin dashboard)
For example, you can a feature called a Gravatar Hovercard to your WordPress blog using a plugin called Jetpack.
Gravatar Hovercards allow 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 normally a feature of WordPress.com (the hosted version of WordPress). You can, however, add Gravatar Hovercards to a self-hosted site by installing a versatile, feature-rich (and free) plugin called Jetpack …
(Jetpack WordPress Plugin – Gravatar Hovercards)
After installing Jetpack on your site and activating the Gravatar Hovercards feature, a new entry will show up in your Discussion Settings > Avatars admin area. This allows you to display user profiles when someone hovers over a Gravatar image …
(WordPress Discussion Settings – Gravatar Hovercards)
If this feature has been activated, then if a visitor hovers their mouse over your Gravatar …
(Hovering the mouse over a Gravatar displays a Gravatar Hovercard)
Your Gravatar Hovercard will appear, allowing people to see 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 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.
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