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 media sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, online forums and loads of web properties …
(Avatars are now 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 avatar images (e.g. when users post comments or engage in online discussions) …
You may be wondering why many blog posts and discussions show avatars in some entries while some don’t, or perhaps you’ve left a comment on someone else’s blog and wondered why your pic didn’t show up …
This tutorial explains what Gravatars are, how they 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 type of avatar used in WordPress)
Gravatar is short for Globally Recognized Avatar.
Gravatars allow you 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 by many technology platforms.
How Do Gravatars Work?
Once registered with Gravatar, the service matches your profile information to the email address in your account and displays your custom gravatar image next to your post comments, articles and (optionally) elsewhere on the WordPress site …
If a visitor chooses not to sign up with Gravatar, the default icon set by the WP site admin will display for their entries (we explain this further below).
(Default icon set by WP site admin)
Typically, the default avatar most commonly used is called the “Mystery Man” …
If you don’t want your entries to be associated with a default icon, then the easiest thing to do is set up your own gravatar.
Benefits Of Using A Gravatar
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 create an account with, you could have the same avatar display 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 carried across the web. You don’t need to manage user accounts or edit user images, to allow visitors to use Gravatars on your site.
Benefits For WordPress Users
- You don’t have to create a new avatar on every site you join or service you register for.
- Users can update their Gravatar across multiple sites from their account.
The tutorial below explains how to set up and use a WordPress Gravatar.
How To Add Gravatars To WordPress – A Step-By-Step Tutorial
To use 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 create one on the 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 associated with your Gravatar.
Upload your Gravatar image …
(Gravatar offers various image uploading options)
After uploading your image, crop and save it …
Select one of the available ratings for your Gravatar …
(Rate your Gravatar picture)
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 are done setting up your account, your Gravatar will 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 every time you login …
Managing Gravatar Settings in WordPress
Although WordPress now automatically integrates with Gravatars, you can manage some of the settings:
- Whether Avatars (aka, Gravatars) are displayed on your site or not.
- Avatar ratings filter.
To manage how your Gravatar is used, log in as an administrator and go to the Settings > Discussion area …
(Discussion Settings Menu)
Scroll down 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 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 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 user to an auto-generated image. Now, every time that user 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 …
Using WordPress Gravatars – Tips
By default, WordPress displays Gravatar images at a fixed size. To customize the default image size, you would need to edit code in your template files.
Also, many additional WordPress plugins have been developed to enhance the use of Gravatars. you can see which plugins 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 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 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 WordPress site if you install the powerful Jetpack plugin …
(Jetpack – Gravatar Hovercards)
After Jetpack is installed on your site and the Gravatar Hovercards feature is activated, a new entry will show up in your Discussion Settings > Avatars section. This allows you to enable the display of people’s profiles when someone hovers over a Gravatar …
(WordPress Discussion Settings Screen – Gravatar Hovercards)
If this feature has been activated, then whenever a visitor hovers their mouse over your Gravatar …
(Hovering your mouse over a Gravatar displays a Gravatar Hovercard)
Your Gravatar Hovercard will display, allowing people to click through to 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 tutorial has helped you learn what Gravatars are and how to get your picture to display next to your posts, 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