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 the standard across the web on social web sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, online directories and many other sites …
(Avatars are now used all over the web)
Table of Contents
- Using WordPress Gravatars
Using WordPress Gravatars
If you read blogs, you will see that WordPress sometimes also displays avatars (e.g. when users 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 some don’t, or perhaps you’ve contributed to an online discussion and wondered why your image appeared all greyed out …
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 kind of avatar used in WordPress)
Gravatar stands for Globally Recognized Avatar.
Gravatars make it possible for a person 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.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 supported by many technologies.
How Do Gravatars Work?
Once registered with Gravatar, 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 across the WordPress universe …
If a visitor has not set up their Gravatar account, the default icon set by the site admin will be associated with their entries (we explain this further below).
(Default icon set by site admin)
Typically, the default image most commonly used is called the “Mystery Man” …
If you don’t want your WordPress entries to be associated with a default icon, then the easiest thing to do is set up your own gravatar.
Why Use 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 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
- Adding user Gravatars requires very little effort.
- Gravatars require no additional plugins.
- Gravatars are carried across the web. You don’t have to manage user accounts or their images, to allow post commenters to use Gravatars on your site.
WordPress User Benefits
- Users don’t have to set up an avatar on every site they join or service they register for.
- 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 Gravatar.
How To Add A Gravatar To Your WordPress Site – A Step-By-Step Tutorial
To start using 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 choose the email address and image you want associated with your Gravatar.
Upload your Gravatar image …
(Upload your Gravatar image)
Add your photo, then crop and save it …
Choose one of the available ratings for your Gravatar (G, PG, R, or X) …
(Rate your Gravatar picture)
You can access and edit your own account anytime …
You can further edit your profile by associating your Gravatar with an email, website, location and a brief bio …
Once you have finished 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, web forums, etc …
Your Gravatar will also display inside your own WordPress dashboard, in your user profile …
And whenever you log back into your site …
How To Manage Gravatars On Your WordPress Site
Although WordPress sites now automatically integrate using Gravatars, you can change the following settings:
- Whether Avatars (aka, Gravatars) are displayed on your site or not.
- Which rating of Avatars are displayed.
To control how your Gravatar is used, log into your WP admin area and go to the Settings > Discussion administration panel …
(WordPress Discussion Settings Menu)
Scroll down the screen to the Avatars section …
The Avatars section provides you with several 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 its 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 account. 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 commenter posts on your site, they will have the same image next to their name.
Remember to click the Save Changes button when finished to save your new settings …
Using WordPress Gravatars – Useful Tips
By default, Gravatar images display at a fixed size. To change the default image 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-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 Facebook, Twitter, 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, if you install the powerful (and free) Jetpack WordPress plugin …
(WordPress Plugin: Jetpack – Gravatar Hovercards)
After installing Jetpack on your site and activating the Gravatar Hovercards feature, a new item will show up in your Discussion Settings > Avatars management panel. This allows you to enable the display of visitor profiles when someone hovers over a Gravatar image …
(WordPress Discussion Settings Screen – Gravatar Hovercards)
If you activate this feature, then whenever a visitor hovers over your Gravatar …
(Hover your mouse over a Gravatar to display 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 what a Gravatar is 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.