If you have ever left a comment on a WordPress blog, you may have noticed that by default, there is no picture (or avatar) next to your name after the comment is published. Furthermore, if you have ever started your own WordPress blog, you will notice that there is nowhere to upload a profile picture under the Users section. So how do you get an avatar to appear?
WordPress and several other web portals use a service called Gravatar (or Globally Recognized Avatar). When you register for an account on Gravatar, you will create an association with your e-mail address. Be sure to provide the e-mail address that you typically leave when posting comments.
More often than not, your e-mail is not posted or shown as a hyperlink when you comment on a blog. It is only left as a means of communication for the webmaster and to verify that your comment is not spam. If you are leaving a comment on a site that utilizes the Gravatar feature, it will send a request to their servers asking for the image associated with your e-mail address. Once Gravatar’s servers respond, your previously chosen image will be displayed next to your name on your comment! Gravatar handles an estimated 75,000 of these requests every second.
For web designers, bloggers and site developers, Gravatar also offers some pretty nifty features allowing you to incorporate people’s profiles into your website’s comments and “About Us” sections. You can visit their tutorials section (http://en.gravatar.com/site/implement/) to find out all of the different ways that you can implement Gravatar into your new or existing website.
Building a consistent brand for yourself is an important part of your Internet identity. If you want readers, viewers or listeners to easily identify you whether you’re posting on your blog, tweeting on Twitter, posting on Facebook or sharing on Google+ you will want to have a consistent presence so you are easily identifiable. When you update one of your profile images, make sure that you politely inform your users of the change so they continue to recognize you.
Most importantly, remember that a picture is worth a thousand words, so chose your profile image and avatar carefully. This is what people will use to recognize your content on almost every corner of the web. Having a consistent and easily recognizable image across all of your profiles and networks will help your audience recognize and engage your content.
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