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)
The use of profile images has now become mainstream on social web channels like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, online directories and loads of other places …
(Avatars are used across all user sites on the web)
Using WordPress Gravatars
If you read other blogs, you will see that WordPress also displays avatar images (e.g. when visitors post comments or engage in online discussions) …
You may have wondered why some blog posts and discussions display pics or images in some blog entries and some don’t, or perhaps you’ve left a comment on someone else’s blog and wondered why your pic displayed as a grey blob …
In this tutorial you will learn about Gravatars, how they work and how to set up avatars in WordPress.
What Is A Gravatar?
WordPress uses a special kind of avatar called a Gravatar …
(A Gravatar is a special kind of avatar for use in WordPress)
Gravatar stands for Globally Recognized Avatar.
Gravatars allow WordPress users to have one avatar used 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 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 used by many WordPress users supported by many web 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 comments, articles and (optionally) elsewhere on the WordPress site …
If a site is not registered with Gravatar, the default avatar set by the WP site admin will be associated with their entries (see further below).
(Default avatar set by site admin)
Typically, the default avatar most commonly used is called the “Mystery Man” …
If you don’t want your WordPress entries to display with a generated icon, then set up a gravatar with your own picture.
Why Use Gravatars
A Gravatar is basically 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 register an account with, 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.
- Gravatars require no additional plugins.
- Gravatars are carried across the web. You don’t need to manage user accounts or edit user images, to allow people to use Gravatars on your site.
WP User Benefits
- Users don’t need to register on every site they visit just to use a Gravatar.
- Users can update their Gravatar across multiple sites from their account.
The tutorial below explains how to set up and use Gravatars.
How To Add A Gravatar To Your WordPress Blog – 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 set up your profile, and select the email address and image you want to associate with your Gravatar.
You will be asked to upload an image …
(Gravatar offers various image uploading options)
Add your image, then 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 settings …
You can edit your profile further by associating your Gravatar with an email, website, location and a brief bio …
Once you are done editing your details and 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 dashboard, in your user account …
And every time you log back into your site …
Managing Gravatars On Your WordPress Site
Although WordPress now automatically integrates the use of Gravatars, you can manage 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 in as an administrator and go to the Settings > Discussion screen …
(WordPress Discussion Settings Menu)
Scroll down the page to the Avatars section …
The Avatars section provides you with several 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 rate their Gravatar image (i.e. G, PG, R, X) based on appropriateness. This section lets you 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 their own Gravatar account. Generated icons link the email of the commenter 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 save your changes when done …
Using WordPress Gravatars – Useful Tips
By default, WordPress displays Gravatars 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 functionality 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 blog using a 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 a feature of WordPress.com (the hosted version of WordPress). You can add Gravatar Hovercards to your self-hosted site, however, by installing a versatile, feature-rich WordPress plugin called Jetpack …
(Jetpack by WordPress.com – Gravatar Hovercards)
After 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 admin area. This allows you to enable the display of user profiles when someone hovers over a Gravatar image with their mouse …
(WordPress Discussion Settings – Gravatar Hovercards)
If you activate this feature, then whenever visitors hover over your Gravatar …
(Hover your mouse over a Gravatar to display Gravatar Hovercards)
Your Gravatar Hovercard will display, giving people an opportunity to visit 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 article has helped you learn what a Gravatar is 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.
"These tutorials have so much information and are easy to understand. If you use WordPress or plan to in the future these will help you with everything you need to know." - Valisa (Mesa, Arizona)