WordPress For Non-Techies: Free WordPress Tutorials – WPCompendium.org

Using WordPress Gravatars

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)

The use of avatars has now become the norm across the web on social web sites like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, online forums and loads of web properties …

(Avatars are now used all over the web)

Using WordPress Gravatars

If you read other people’s WordPress blogs, you will see that WordPress also displays user profile photos (e.g. when users post comments or engage in online discussions) …

You may have wondered why a number of users display their photos or images on their blog posts and comments, while with other users, all you see is a greyed out image or some weird icon with weird icon, or perhaps you’ve left a comment on someone else’s blog and wondered why your profile image displayed as a grey blob while others got to show their pictures …

This tutorial explains what Gravatars are, how they work and how to add avatars in WordPress.

What Are Gravatars?

WordPress uses a specific kind of avatar called a Gravatar

(A Gravatar is a special type of avatar for use with WordPress)

Gravatar stands for Globally Recognized Avatar.

Gravatars allow web users 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 supported on many web technologies.

How Gravatars Work

Once your Gravatar account is set up, the service matches your WordPress profile information to the email address in your account and displays your custom gravatar image next to comments, articles and (optionally) elsewhere on the WordPress site …

If a visitor is not registered with Gravatar, the default avatar set by the site administrator will display on their comments (this is explained further below).

(Default avatar set by site admin)

Typically, most images use a default avatar (often referred to as the “Mystery Man”) …

(Mystery Man Avatar)

If you don’t want your entries to display with a default icon, then set up a gravatar.

Benefits Of Using A Gravatar

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 having one avatar display on a forum that you often drop into and another avatar displaying on a blog that you are a registered member of, gravatars allow you to 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:

WP Admin Benefits

User Benefits

Complete the tutorial below to learn how to set up and use Gravatars in WordPress.

How To Add A Gravatar To WordPress – Tutorial

To use Gravatars, first create an account here (it’s FREE): 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 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.

Upload your Gravatar image …

(Gravatar offers you several image uploading options)

After uploading your photo, crop and save it …

Choose a rating for your Gravatar …

(Rate your Gravatar image)

You can access and edit 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 begin following you around the web.

It will be displayed in blog comments, web forums, etc …

Your Gravatar will also display inside your own dashboard, in your user profile …

And whenever you log back in …

How To Manage Gravatars On Your WordPress Site

Although WordPress sites now automatically integrate with Gravatars, you can change some of the settings:

To control how your Gravatar is used, log into your WP dashboard and go to the Settings > Discussion screen …

(WordPress Discussion Settings Menu)

Scroll down the screen to the Avatars section …

The Avatars section presents you with a number of options:

  1. Avatar Display: This section lets you toggle Gravatars on and off.
  2. 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 select the maximum rating you will allow on your site.
  3. 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 user to an auto-generated image. Now, every time that person posts a comment on your site, they will have the same image next to their name.

Remember to save your changes when done …

Using Gravatars – Useful 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, 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 site using a plugin called Jetpack.

Gravatar Hovercards

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.

Gravatar Hovercards are typically a feature of WordPress.com (the hosted version of WordPress). You can add a Gravatar Hovercard to a self-hosted WordPress installation, however, if you install the powerful, feature-rich Jetpack plugin …

(Jetpack by WordPress.com – Gravatar Hovercards)

Once the Jetpack plugin is installed on your site and the Gravatar Hovercards feature is activated, a Gravatar Hovercards item will show up in your Discussion Settings > Avatars management panel. This lets you enable the display of visitor profiles when someone hovers over a Gravatar image …

(WordPress Discussion Settings – Gravatar Hovercards)

If this feature has been activated, then whenever visitors hover over your Gravatar …

(Hovering your mouse over a Gravatar displays a Gravatar Hovercard)

Your Gravatar Hovercard will display, giving people an opportunity to visit your profile …

(Gravatar Hovercards)

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 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.


"If you're new to WordPress, this can stand on its own as a training course and will stay with you as you progress from beginner to advanced and even guru status." - Bruce (Columbus, Ohio)

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