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 mainstream on social web channels like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, online directories and many other sites …
(Avatars are used across all user sites on the web)
If you regularly visit other WordPress sites, you will see that WordPress also displays user avatars (e.g. when visitors post comments or engage in online discussions) …
You may have wondered why some users get to display their profile photos or images next to their blog posts and discussions and some don’t, or perhaps you’ve contributed to an online discussion and wondered why your picture didn’t show up …
In this tutorial you are going to learn what Gravatars are, how they work and how to set them up in WordPress.
Gravatar – What Is It?
WordPress uses a specific kind of avatar called a Gravatar …
(A Gravatar is a special kind of avatar for use with WordPress)
Gravatar is short for Globally Recognized Avatar.
Gravatars allow you to have one avatar 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.com. 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 many WordPress users supported by many web technologies.
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 comments, articles and (optionally) elsewhere on the WordPress site …
If a site does not have a Gravatar account set up, the default icon set by the WP site administrator will appear next to their name (we explain this further below).
(Default icon set by WP site admin)
Typically, most images use a default avatar (generally called the “Mystery Man”) …
If you don’t want your entries to display with a default icon, then set up a gravatar with your own picture.
Why Use Gravatars
A Gravatar is basically 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 displaying on a blog that you are a registered member of, gravatars allow you to 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 manage.
- Gravatars require no additional plugins.
- Gravatars are portable across the web. You don’t have to manage user accounts or edit user images, to allow people to use Gravatars on your site.
- You don’t have to register an avatar on every site you join or service you register for.
- Users can update their Gravatar across multiple sites by uploading a single image inside a central location.
The step-by-step tutorial below shows you how to set up and use Gravatars in WordPress.
How To Add Gravatars To WordPress – A Step-By-Step Tutorial
To start using Gravatars, first first you will need to create an account (it’s FREE): 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 be asked to upload an image …
(Gravatar offers various image uploading options)
After uploading your image, crop and save it …
Choose 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 description about yourself …
Once you have finished editing your details and 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 in …
Managing Gravatars On Your WordPress Site
Although WordPress now automatically integrates with Gravatars, you can change some of the settings:
- Whether Avatars (aka, Gravatars) are displayed on your site or not.
- Which rating of Avatars are shown.
To control how your Gravatar is used, log into your WP dashboard and go to the Settings > Discussion area …
(Discussion Settings Menu)
Scroll down the screen to the Avatars section …
The Avatars section presents you with a number of options:
- Avatar Display: Here you can 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. This section lets you select the maximum rating you will allow on your site.
- Default Avatar: WordPress lets you 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 person 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 Gravatars – Useful Info
By default, WordPress displays Gravatar images 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 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 WordPress 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 a feature of WordPress.com (the hosted version of WordPress). You can add Gravatar Hovercards to a self-hosted site, however, if you install a powerful WordPress plugin called Jetpack …
(Jetpack by WordPress.com – Gravatar Hovercards)
After installing the Jetpack plugin on your site and activating the Gravatar Hovercards feature, a new entry will show up in your Discussion Settings > Avatars screen. This lets you enable the display of people’s profiles when someone hovers over a Gravatar image with their mouse …
(WordPress Discussion Settings – Gravatar Hovercards)
If this feature has been activated, then whenever a visitor hovers their mouse over your Gravatar …
(Hovering the mouse over a Gravatar displays Gravatar Hovercards)
Your Gravatar Hovercard will display, allowing people to learn more about you …
Hopefully this article has helped you learn about Gravatars 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.
"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)
Disclaimer: We have no association with WordPress or any WordPress products mentioned on this site. We may derive an affiliate commission from the purchase of third-party services or products mentioned on this site. All product images are the copyright of their respective owners, comply with all license terms and agreements of use are being used solely for training and illustrative purposes.
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