Getting users to upload avatars can be a challenge for BuddyPress communities. Avatars aren’t like profile fields where you can require users to complete them. The problem is that a community without many real-user avatars can be somewhat uninviting. Member directories and widgets end up looking grey and white and uninspiring. Too many default “mystery man” avatars floating around can give the impression that the social network is filled with spammers.
One way to encourage users to upload an avatar is to make it the first thing they see when registering for your community. BuddyPress Upload Avatar Ajax is a new, albeit oddly named, plugin that adds avatar upload to the registration form. The upload button is placed even before the account details:
New members in the process of registering can quickly upload, crop and save an avatar right on the registration page, without getting redirected.
The user’s avatar is shown at the top as he or she continues to fill the rest of the registration fields.
This is a simple, proactive measure that you can add to your BuddyPress site to get more members in the door with avatars already set. Install the plugin from WordPress.org and activate it; there are no settings to configure.
Don’t let your social network start to look like a ghost town that’s overrun by zombie mystery man avatars. If it’s like pulling teeth to get members to upload avatars on your site, consider adding the Buddypress Upload Avatar Ajax plugin. Although it doesn’t force the user to upload an avatar, the plugin makes it more convenient for users to personalize their profiles at registration.