Most internet users are 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 web sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, online directories and other web properties …
(Avatars are now used across all user sites on the web)
If you read blogs, you will see that WordPress also displays avatar pictures (e.g. when users post comments or engage in online discussions) …
You may have wondered why some users get to display their avatars next to blog posts and discussions and some don’t, or perhaps you’ve left a comment on someone else’s blog and wondered why your profile image appeared all greyed out …
In this tutorial you are going to learn about Gravatars, how Gravatars work and how to add avatars in WordPress.
What’s A Gravatar?
WordPress uses a specific type of avatar called a Gravatar …
(A Gravatar is a special type of avatar used with WordPress)
Gravatar stands for Globally Recognized Avatar.
Gravatars allow web users to have one avatar used 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 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 used by a growing number of WordPress users supported on many web technology platforms.
How Do Gravatars Work?
Once your Gravatar account is set up, the service matches your WordPress profile information to the email registered in your account and displays your custom gravatar image next to your post discussions, articles and (optionally) elsewhere on the WordPress site …
If a visitor has not set up their Gravatar account, the default avatar set by the site admin will appear next to their blog 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” …
(Mystery Man Avatar)
If you don’t want your entries to be associated with a default icon, then set up your own gravatar.
Benefits Of Using Gravatars
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 frequently visit and another avatar display on a blog that you are a registered member of, gravatars allow you to have the same avatar display on all of the sites that you visit.
Enabling gravatars on your WordPress site also simplifies the process for everyone involved:
WP Admin Benefits
- Gravatars require very little effort to manage.
- Gravatars require no additional plugins.
- Gravatars are carried across the web. You don’t have to manage user accounts or their images, to allow visitors to use Gravatars on your site.
WP User Benefits
- Users don’t have 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 shows you how to set up and use Gravatars in WordPress.
How To Add A Gravatar To WordPress – 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.
You will need to upload an image …
(Gravatar offers several image uploading options)
After uploading your image, crop and save it …
Choose a rating for your Gravatar …
You can access and edit 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 blog comments, forums, etc …
Your Gravatar will also appear inside your own dashboard, in your user profile …
And whenever 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 into your dashboard and go to the Settings > Discussion area …
(WordPress Discussion Settings)
Scroll down to the Avatars section …
The Avatars section presents you with a number of options:
- Avatar Display: Here you can specify whether to display Avatars on your site or not.
- 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. 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 post commenter to an auto-generated image. Now, every time that commenter posts a comment on your site, the same image will display next to their name.
Remember to save your changes when finished …
Using Gravatars – Additional 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, many additional WordPress plugins have been developed to extend the use of Gravatars. you can see which plugins are available inside your dashboard by typing in the keyword “gravatar” inside the plugin search field …
(Search for gravatar-related plugins inside your WordPress plugin dashboard)
For example, you can a feature called a Gravatar Hovercard to your blog 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 normally a feature of WordPress.com (the hosted version of WordPress). You can, however, add a Gravatar Hovercard to a self-hosted site if you install a powerful (and free) plugin called Jetpack …
(Jetpack – Gravatar Hovercards)
After installing the Jetpack plugin on your site and activating the Gravatar Hovercards feature, a new entry will be added to your Discussion Settings > Avatars admin area. This allows you to 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 whenever someone 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 click through to your profile …
Hopefully this article has helped you learn about Gravatars and how to get your picture 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.
"Wow! I never knew there's so much to learn about WordPress! I bought one of the WordPress for Dummies three years ago, such authors need to be on this course!" - Rich Law, Create A Blog Now
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