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Practical YouTube Thumbnail Guide

Let’s dig a little deeper into creating an eye-catching YouTube thumbnail that will help you boost your viewership and beneficial for YouTube SEO.

What makes you get more YouTube views without even reading its title? That’s right; it’s a thumbnail! YouTube thumbnails are significant to get views and make your video stand out.

In this practical guide, you’ll gain enough knowledge to become a pro at creating video thumbnails that pop. These thumbnails will aid you in grasping your audience’s attention, making them enthusiastic about watching your content. Let’s dig a little deeper into creating an eye-catching YouTube thumbnail that will help boost your viewership and benefit YouTube SEO.

What is YouTube Thumbnails?

what are youtube thumbnails

Don’t judge a book by its cover. However, don’t we all do that? We judge a book by its cover design in the same way your target audience judges and gets a hint about what your YouTube video has to say. A YouTube thumbnail is the cover design of the video.

The thumbnail is an image with compromised quality that also talks a lot about your video. It is primarily the first thing your audience will see while browsing that helps them decide the best video solution or content to view. In short, YouTube thumbnails are small clickable images that the viewers will click on if they choose to watch the video.

Why use Custom Thumbnails?

The thumbnail is like an overview of the content in the video that makes it easier for the audience to choose between a variety of videos available online. Therefore, a top-notch custom video thumbnail will help you make your content look outstanding.

However, is a custom thumbnail that important? Why not just use a snapshot from the video or the recommendations that YouTube provides by default? Well, you have everything you need, right?—An appealing headline, good content, smart SEO keywords. Then, why choose a custom thumbnail?
Well, here’s the answer: The majority of the best-performing and trending videos on YouTube have custom thumbnails! Yes, you read it correctly.

Imagine the people who browse through YouTube, hoping to find that one video they’ve been looking for. Instead, attention-seeking headlines and enticing thumbnails trap the viewers in the loop of watching the videos. Jumping from one video to the next in the suggestions section, the magic of thumbnails worked!

Specifically, the thumbnails are also designed to provide the audience with a valuable overview of the content, be compelling enough for the audience to watch, differentiate your brand, and make the viewing experience easy on any device.

Your video thumbnail has the power to either effectively build your brand name or destroy it. Well, this is mainly because your thumbnail will create the first impression on your audience, which will ultimately lead to their decision to view it or skip it. The first impression is the best—at least in this case! Additionally, the thumbnail image of your choice must make your audience curious enough to watch the video that will help you to get more YouTube views.

Creating Outstanding Thumbnails


Tips to consider while creating video thumbnails

To create strong and appealing thumbnails, keeping in mind the below-stated elements is incredibly crucial.

YouTube’s Terms of Service

While selecting an image and finalizing it as your video thumbnail, you must make sure that your image and text don’t contain any kind of copyright infringement. Also, make sure that your chosen thumbnail is age-appropriate for your target audience.

Selection of Image

Choosing an image is undoubtedly the most significant element to consider. Ensure that the image is strong and vibrant and it portrays the overview you want to convey through your content. Also, the image must look appealing in both larger and smaller sizes. Lastly, run a quick quality check to ensure that the thumbnail makes your content stand out from the others.

Image Resolution

The higher the image resolution better the promised quality of the thumbnail. However, make sure to keep the size under 2 MB.

Photo Composition & Text

In order to make the photo composition better and more interesting, apply the “rule of thirds.” Also, while using text, make sure that it is fresh, original, and not plagiarised.

How To Create Custom Thumbnail?

Creating a compelling thumbnail is important if you want to get more clicks on your video. You can also create a custom thumbnail of your choice. Here’s how you can do it.

1. Create an online graphic design tool account

Multiple graphic design tool is available online, and Canva is one of them. It has a free and premium version that lets you access the amazing features. Visit the official website of Canva, and create an account.

2. Choose the background and add text

While creating a template, you can either upload the photo from the gallery or choose the available template from the list. You will see the template option on the left panel.

If you are creating a video cover on your own, you will need little graphic skills to understand the color palettes. Make your text and another element brighter if your background is of dark color and vice versa.

3. Download the image and upload

Before you download the thumbnail, check if the thumbnail you have created matches with the video’s title. Remember, you have to make a compelling thumbnail but not a clickbait one. Once you are done, follow the steps to download the video cover.

  • Click on the share button at the top.
  • Click on the download option.
  • Select the file type to JPG.
  • Type out the page number under the Select Pages section.
  • Once done, click on the download button.

YouTube Thumbnail Design Trends

Exploring what’s going on on YouTube Thumbnail Trends can help you to grab attention. Below are some examples of YouTube thumbnail Trends.

4 trending thumbnail designs on YouTube

  1. Thumbnails with Faces: The content creators on YouTube usually choose thumbnails with faces. Well, that’s mainly because our brains are compelled to respond to faces.
  2. Thumbnails that Play with Perspective: Creativity is the key to perspective-oriented thumbnails. When it comes to creating thumbnails that play with your perspective, you can create engaging visuals that build curiosity in the audience.
  3. Emoji Thumbnails: Many content creators on YouTube choose emoticons as the thumbnails for their videos. Well, the emojis are easy to understand and convey the overview of the video.
  4. Progress Showing Thumbnails: Simply put… don’t we all love the before/after video or even image content available on social media? The content creators use this formula to grab their audience’s attention and trigger some gripping points through the portrayal of the thumbnail.

Thumbnail Patterns and Why Are They Important

Youtube Thumbnail Ideas

What is one of the most significant factors that many content creators overlook while choosing a thumbnail? That’s right, the pattern! Well, most people don’t or hardly use any design to create thumbnails. However, you don’t want to be ‘most people, do you? Incorporating patterns while creating the thumbnail will make it look unique and different from the rest.

Visual patterns not only make the content visually appealing, but they also help in gaining more viewership. Patterns make video thumbnails look more professional, and they help to maintain brand consistency. One of the most important reasons to incorporate patterns with thumbnails is the YouTube Neural Network Algorithm. The algorithm is specifically programmed to search for patterns. Hence, it will aid in increasing the viewership.

On the other hand, if you want the pattern to use its magic to the fullest, you must include your recognizable channel icon and text.

Common Thumbnail Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Well, to err is human, right? Let’s take a look at common mistakes while creating a thumbnail and how to avoid them.

Using More Words Than Required

The text used in the thumbnail must be concise and crisp. If the line succeeds in seeking your audience’s attention, then your work here is done! Using too many words in thumbnails will make your audience lose interest, and your video will be scrolled down!

Boring Video Thumbnails

When creating a thumbnail, avoid using dull images. Instead, choose something that your viewers will resonate with. Don’t forget that they’re browsing YouTube in the first place, probably because they are bored!

Blurry Thumbnails

Always try to choose a thumbnail that doesn’t have too much motion in it. The action will make the thumbnail look blurry, which will speak a lot about the content and not in a good way. So, the better the quality, the better the impression.

How to Change YouTube Thumbnails?

Let’s go through the quick steps of setting up or changing a thumbnail on YouTube.

  • Sign in to your YouTube account
  • Click on your channel icon
  • Click on “Creator Studio.
  • Go to “Video Manager
  • Click on “Edit
  • Select a thumbnail or click on Custom Thumbnail
  • Choose the image
  • Click “Open.
  • Save changes

YouTube’s Guidelines for Thumbnail Creation

It is highly significant to remember YouTube’s guidelines while creating a thumbnail. Your video thumbnail must not include nudity or sexual content, violence, copyright infringement, or illegal typefaces such as default system fonts, purchased or free fonts, etc.

To summarize everything, you know the importance of compelling thumbnails, which will help you increase your content viewership. Choose customized thumbnails with classic pattern incorporation while keeping the guidelines in mind. Also, to make your video thumbnail flawless curiosity-building, make sure to avoid mistakes and carefully weave all the significant elements.

So, all the best with creating your video thumbnail—the new internet trend!

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. Can I add text to my YouTube thumbnail, and what should it include?

Yes, you can add text to your YouTube thumbnail but ensure to use the text that is related to the content. If you use something that is irrelevant to your video, YouTube will consider it clickbait.

Q2. Are there size and format requirements for YouTube thumbnails?

Focusing on size and format while creating a video cover is important to make it fit. The perfect thumbnail size is 1280 x 720 pixels with a minimum width of 640 pixels.

Q3. Can I change my YouTube thumbnail after uploading a video?

Yes. YouTube allows you to change the video thumbnail while uploading the video when it’s processing and even after it’s uploaded.

Q4. Can I use a screenshot from my video as a thumbnail?

Adding a screenshot of the video as a thumbnail is quite straightforward. Take a screenshot of the video that best suits the video’s content. You can modify and edit the screenshot using an online graphic tool like Canav to give a final touch.

Q5. Are there specific guidelines for YouTube thumbnails?

No, there isn’t such a guideline to create a YouTube thumbnail, but the one thing you need to ensure is the size and format of the video cover. The preferred YouTube thumbnail size in pixels is 1280 x 720 with a minimum width of 640 pixels.