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)
Using profile images has now become the standard across the web on social web sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, online forums and many other sites …
(Avatars are commonly used across all user sites on the web)
Using WordPress Gravatars
If you visit other WordPress sites, you will see that WordPress sometimes also displays avatars (e.g. when visitors post comments or engage in online discussions) …
You may be wondering why some users get to display their photos next to blog posts and comments and others don’t, or perhaps you’ve left a comment on someone else’s blog and wondered why your avatar didn’t show up …
This tutorial explains what Gravatars are, how they work and how to use them in WordPress.
What’s A Gravatar?
WordPress uses a specific kind of avatar called a Gravatar …
(A Gravatar is a special type of avatar used in WordPress)
Gravatar stands for Globally Recognized Avatar.
Gravatars make it possible for a person to have one avatar 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 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 associated with your account and displays your custom gravatar image next to your comments, articles and (optionally) elsewhere across the WordPress universe …
If a site has not set up their Gravatar account, the default avatar set by the site administrator will appear on their comments (see further below).
(Default icon set by site administrator)
Typically, most images use a default avatar (called the “Mystery Man”) …
If you don’t want your WordPress entries to display with a default icon, then the easiest thing to do is 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 have the same avatar display 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 manage.
- 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
- 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 a central location.
Complete the step-by-step tutorial below to learn more about setting up and using a WordPress Gravatar.
How To Add A Gravatar To WordPress – A 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 register for one on the Gravatar site …
Once you have verified and set up your account, follow the instructions to set up your profile, and choose the email address and image you want associated with your Gravatar.
You will need to upload an image …
(Gravatar offers a number of image uploading options)
Add your photo, then crop and save it …
Choose one of the available ratings for your Gravatar …
(Gravatar image ratings)
You can access and manage your own account settings …
You can edit your profile further by associating your Gravatar with an email, website, location and a brief bio …
Once you are done setting up your account, your Gravatar will be integrated with your WordPress account and follow you around the web.
It will be displayed in blog comments, forums, etc …
Your Gravatar will also show up inside your own WordPress dashboard, in your user account …
And whenever you log back in …
Managing Gravatars On Your WordPress Site
Although WordPress now automatically integrates with Gravatars, you can change the following 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 dashboard and go to the Settings > Discussion screen …
(WordPress Discussion Settings)
Scroll down to the Avatars section …
You will be presented with the following options:
- Avatar Display: Specify whether to display Gravatars on your site or not.
- 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 appropriateness. Here you can select 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 without requiring them to have a Gravatar account. Generated icons link the email of the commenter to an auto-generated image. Now, every time that same person posts on your site, they will have the same image next to their name.
Remember to save your changes when done …
Using Gravatars – Tips
By default, Gravatar images display at a fixed size. To change the default WordPress Gravatar size, code editing would be required.
Also, various WordPress plugins have been developed to extend the use of Gravatars. These 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 WordPress site using a WordPress plugin called Jetpack.
Gravatar Hovercards allow 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 Twitter, Facebook, or Linkedin.
A Gravatar Hovercard is normally a feature of WordPress.com (the hosted version of WordPress). You can add a Gravatar Hovercard to your self-hosted site, however, if you install a versatile, feature-rich WordPress plugin called Jetpack …
(Jetpack Plugin – Gravatar Hovercards)
Once the Jetpack plugin is installed on your site and the Gravatar Hovercards feature is activated, a Gravatar Hovercards entry will be added to your Discussion Settings > Avatars management panel. This lets you display user profiles when someone hovers over a Gravatar image …
(WordPress Discussion Settings Screen – Gravatar Hovercards)
If you activate this feature, then if a visitor hovers their mouse over your Gravatar …
(Hovering your mouse over a Gravatar displays a Gravatar Hovercard)
Your Gravatar Hovercard will pop up, giving people an opportunity 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 about Gravatars 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.
"This is AMAZING! I had learnt about how to use WordPress previously, but this covers absolutely everything and more!! Incredible value! Thank you!" - Monique, Warrior Forum