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)
Avatars have now become the standard across the web on social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, online directories and many other web properties …
(Avatars are used all over the web)
Using WordPress Gravatars
If you read other blogs, you will see that WordPress sometimes also displays avatar images (e.g. when visitors post comments or engage in online discussions) …
You may be wondering why some blog posts and discussions display profile photos in some blog entries while others don’t, or perhaps you’ve left a comment on someone else’s blog and wondered why your profile image didn’t show up …
This tutorial explains what Gravatars are, how they work and how to use avatars in WordPress.
Gravatars – What Are They?
WordPress uses a special type 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 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 WordPress and millions of avatar images are served billions of times per day across the web. Gravatars are also supported on many web platforms.
How Do Gravatars Work?
Once your Gravatar account has been created, the service matches your WordPress profile information to the email address 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 does not have a Gravatar account set up, the default avatar set by the site administrator will display next to their blog entries (this is explained further below).
(Default icon set by site administrator)
Typically, most images use a default avatar (generally called the “Mystery Man”) …
If you don’t want your entries to be associated with a generated icon, then set up a gravatar with your own image.
Benefits Of Using A Gravatar
A Gravatar is essentially 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 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, you could 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 administer.
- There is no need to maintain additional plugins.
- Gravatars are visually 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.
Benefits For WordPress Users
- Users don’t need to register on every site they visit just to use a Gravatar.
- Users can update their Gravatar across multiple sites by uploading a single image inside their account.
Complete the tutorial below to learn how to set up and use a WordPress Gravatar.
How To Add A Gravatar To WordPress – 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 create one on the Gravatar 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 to associate 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 …
Select one of the available ratings for your Gravatar (G, PG, R, or X) …
(Gravatar image ratings)
You can access and update your own account settings …
You can further edit your profile by associating your Gravatar with an email, website, location and a brief bio …
Once you are done setting up your account, your Gravatar will follow you around the web.
It will be displayed in your post comments, web forums, etc …
Your Gravatar will also display inside your own dashboard, in your user profile …
And every time you log back into your site …
How To Manage Gravatar Settings in WordPress
Although WordPress sites now automatically integrate with Gravatars, you can change the following settings:
- Whether Avatars (aka, Gravatars) are displayed on your site or not.
- Which rating of Avatars are shown.
To manage how your Gravatar is used, log into your WP dashboard and go to the Settings > Discussion screen …
Scroll down the screen to the Avatars section …
You will be presented 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 give their Gravatar a rating (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. Generated icons link the email of the post commenter to an auto-generated image. Now, every time that user posts on your site, they will have the same image next to their name.
Remember to save your changes when finished …
WordPress Gravatars – Useful Info
By default, Gravatar images display at a fixed size. To customize the default WordPress Gravatar size, you would need to edit code in your template files.
Also, various WordPress plugins have been developed to enhance the use of Gravatars. These are available inside your dashboard by searching for the keyword “gravatar” …
(Search for gravatar-related plugins inside your WordPress plugin dashboard)
For example, you can a feature called a Gravatar Hovercard to your site 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 Twitter, Facebook, or Linkedin.
Gravatar Hovercards are normally a feature of WordPress.com (the hosted version of WordPress). You can add a Gravatar Hovercard to a self-hosted WordPress installation, however, by installing 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 entry will show up in your Discussion Settings > Avatars management panel. This lets you enable the display of people’s profiles when someone hovers over a Gravatar image …
(WordPress Discussion Settings – Gravatar Hovercards)
If you activate this feature, then if a visitor hovers their mouse over your Gravatar …
(Hover your mouse over a Gravatar to display a Gravatar Hovercard)
Your Gravatar Hovercard will appear, giving people an opportunity to visit 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 about Gravatars and how to get your WordPress avatar 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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