You are probably already 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 media sites like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, online directories and other web properties …
(Avatars are used all over the web)
Using WordPress Gravatars
If you read blogs, you will see that WordPress also displays user avatars (e.g. when users post comments or engage in online discussions) …
You may have wondered why some users get to display their photos next to their blog posts and comments and some don’t, or perhaps you’ve posted something online and wondered why your image displayed as a grey blob …
This tutorial explains what Gravatars are, how they work and how to use avatars 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 allow you 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.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 technology platforms.
How 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 comments, articles and (optionally) elsewhere across the WordPress universe …
If a site does not have a Gravatar account set up, the default icon set by the site admin will appear for their entries (we explain this further below).
(Default icon set by WP site admin)
Typically, most images use a default avatar (generally referred to as the “Mystery Man”) …
(Mystery Man Avatar)
If you don’t want your WordPress entries to display with a generated icon, then set up a gravatar.
Benefits Of Using Gravatars
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 register an account with, gravatars allow you to display the same avatar on all of the web properties that you visit.
Enabling gravatars on your WordPress site also simplifies the process for everyone involved:
Benefits for Site Administrators
- Gravatars require very little effort to manage.
- Gravatars require no additional plugins.
- Gravatars are visually portable across the web. You don’t have to manage user accounts or their images, to allow blog commenters to use Gravatars on your site.
- Having a Gravatar account saves you having to register 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 tutorial below explains how to set up and use a WordPress Gravatar.
How To Add Gravatars To Your Site – Tutorial
To use Gravatars, you will first need to create an account here: 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 to associate with your Gravatar.
You will be asked to upload an image …
(Gravatar offers several image uploading options)
Add your photo, then crop and save it …
Choose a rating for your Gravatar (G, PG, R, or X) …
You can access and update 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 are done editing your details and setting up your account, your Gravatar will begin following you around the web.
It will be displayed in your post comments, forums, etc …
Your Gravatar will also display inside your own dashboard, in your user account …
And every time you login …
Managing Gravatar Settings
Although WordPress sites now automatically integrate using Gravatars, you can change the following settings:
- Whether Avatars (aka, Gravatars) show on your site or not.
- Avatar ratings filter.
To control how your Gravatar is used, log into your dashboard and go to the Settings > Discussion area …
(WordPress Discussion Settings)
Scroll down the page to the Avatars section …
You will be presented with the following options:
- Avatar Display: This section lets you toggle Gravatars on and off.
- 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 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 account. 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 user to an auto-generated image. Now, every time that same person posts a comment on your site, they will have the same image next to their name.
Remember to save your changes when finished …
WordPress Gravatars – Tips
By default, Gravatar images display at a fixed size. To customize the default WordPress Gravatar size, code editing would be required.
Also, a number of WordPress plugins have been developed to extend the use of Gravatars. These are available inside your dashboard by typing in 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 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 Twitter, Facebook, or Linkedin.
A Gravatar Hovercard is normally a feature of WordPress.com (the hosted version of WordPress). You can add Gravatar Hovercards to a self-hosted WordPress installation, however, by installing a powerful, feature-rich WordPress plugin called Jetpack …
(WordPress Plugin: Jetpack – Gravatar Hovercards)
Once the Jetpack plugin is installed on your site and the Gravatar Hovercards feature is activated, a Gravatar Hovercards item will be added to your Discussion Settings > Avatars section. This allows you to enable the display of user profiles when someone hovers over a Gravatar image with their mouse …
(WordPress Discussion Settings Screen – Gravatar Hovercards)
If you activate this feature, then whenever someone hovers over your Gravatar …
(Hovering the mouse over a Gravatar displays Gravatar Hovercards)
Your Gravatar Hovercard will appear, giving people an opportunity 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 a Gravatar is and how to get your picture to display next to your post comments, blog discussions, forums and more.
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