Gravatar is a “Globally Recognized Avatar.”
Aside from the popular movie, most are familiar with avatars, the images used to represent you online. Every website, forum, and social media service encourages their usage. We have to have one for each online activity we enroll in. The development of the Gravatar is an attempt to create a universal avatar with the ability to be incorporated into multiple services – one stop picture and branding.
While this isn’t true for the majority of social media and interactive sites, it is true for the WordPress Community. In October of 2007, Automattic purchased Gravatar and integrated it into WordPress.com two months later for testing, and soon afterward Gravatar was integrated into the core of WordPress.
Through WordPress or directly through Gravatar, register and set your Gravatar image. Your image will then be linked to your email address. Sign into any WordPress site with that address, or leave a comment with that address, and your avatar image will be automatically displayed in the comments or other areas on the site. This includes all WordPress sites around the world including WordPress.com.
Gravatars are now available for 43 languages and the number continues to grow as they are embraced globally.
Gravatar offers a “Hovercard” feature. When hovering the mouse over a Gravatar, a hover popup displays the Gravatar image alone with their profile, if available, and a button to click to visit and read their complete profile on Gravatar. Gravatar Hovercards come automatically with WordPress.com and are available through the WordPress Jetpack Plugin for self-hosted and managed WordPress sites.
Using an Open API, WordPress automatically generates Gravatars, no Plugins required. WordPress Themes and Plugins may include features to integrate Gravatars into a site even more. Web designers and developers need to take Gravatars into consideration when it comes to integration as well as designing for them.
The Gravatar plays such an important role in creating your online identity, take time to choose your Gravatar image.
The Gravatar Image
As computer monitors increase screen size and resolution, the small screen is gaining ground. Your Gravatar image must work in a variety of display systems as well as uses.
Gravatar images are featured in:
- WordPress.com Blog Reader
- WordPress Widgets
- WordPress.com profiles
- WordPress Administration Screens
- Third-party services
With all of these locations featuring Gravatars, the images must be able to be resized from 8 pixels to 2048 pixels width or larger, though most still stay at 148px and smaller. It is challenging to create an image to withstand that type of resizing torture.
Let’s look at some examples to see if they can withstand the reduction. This is my Gravatar for Lorelle on WordPress sized 128 pixels, 80 pixels, 32 pixels, and 16 pixels.
The image is recognizable at the larger sizes, but the quality drops when resized to smaller sizes.
This photograph of a flower by my husband, Brent VanFossen has enough contrast in the colors and shape for the image to hold the smaller size and resolution, but is it still recognizable at the smaller size?
Using another photograph of an orangutan by Brent, how does a face, even if it is an animal face, do as it resizes.
The facial features are lost at the smallest size, but we know it is a face even at the smallest size.
A simple graphic with high color contrast and detail holds better than the photographs at the smallest size.
Don’t be intimidated. It takes time to find the right image, and you may go through several before you find one that truly works for you. Professional illustrators and designers are often challenged with designing logos to withstand the pressure of various uses, and there are only a few that specialize in creating Gravatar images.
Your assignment is to add your Gravatar image to your test site.
Please note that if you are already a WordPress.com member, you may have a Gravatar. If you wish to use another, please change your email address associated with the test site.
To add a Gravatar to be linked to your WordPress.com (or other) test site:
- Go to Users > My Profile
- Click the Gravatar link to setup or change your Gravatar
- Anew tab will open in your web browser to help you upload the image or modify it on Gravatar.com
- Remember, the Gravatar image is linked to your email address. You may have multiple email addresses and multiple Gravatars accordingly.
- You will be asked to rate your Gravatar. Choose appropriately.
- While there, create or edit your My Profile and add the short bio from the WordPress profile assignment
- Follow the instructions and return back to your test site when ready
If you do not see your Gravatar image, be patient. It can take a few minutes to connect with your site.
The second task is to set the Gravatar image for commenters on your site with a Gravatar image or account.
- Go to Settings > Discussion
- Scroll down to the Default Avatar section
- Select one of the Gravatar alternative images
- Save Changes
For more information and reading on Gravatars, see:
- Using Gravatars – WordPress Codex
- Gravatars — Support — WordPress.com
- Manage Multiple Identities with One Gravatar Account – Gravatar Blog
- Why You Need a Gravatar – BobWP
- 4 Vital Gravatar Tips to Get Your Comments Clicked & Noticed – Blog Tyrant
- The Complete Guide to Setting Up Gravatar with WordPress – WPKube
- The Highly Underrated Gravatar – Why You Need One and How to Get It – Your Writer Platform
- What Does Your Gravatar Say About You? – The Daily Post
This is a tutorial from Lorelle’s WordPress School. For more information, and to join this free, year-long, online WordPress School, see:
- Lorelle’s WordPress School Introduction
- Lorelle’s WordPress School Description
- WordPress School Tutorials List
- WordPress Publishing Checklist
- How to Give Feedback and Criticism