Eighty3 - Creative Solutions

Designing The Perfect YouTube Thumbnail: Five Things You Need To Consider.

Thumbs Up?

Does your YouTube thumbnail get the thumbs up?

To design the perfect YouTube thumbnail, it’s a good idea to know what it’s designed to do. If you don’t know, you could easily create something that doesn’t quite hit the mark.

A thumbnail is a miniature representation of an image or document that you see at a glance. Some are generic symbols and pictures, but others can be small previews of the actual item you’ll be looking at. In the case of YouTube, thumbnails are the images you browse before you click. Essentially they’re a mini advertisement that says, “Hey, watch me!”. And what’s great is that you have a choice of what to display. 

Given the thumbnail is the only thing your potential viewer will see before clicking on your video, you need to make it as exciting and enticing as possible. So what can you do to make sure your thumbnail doesn’t get ignored? 

"A picture says a thousand words.”

All very clichéd, but true nonetheless. When it comes to an image, the options you have fall into a few categories.  

  • An image that conveys what the video is about. 
  • A still from the video itself. 
  • Or, if the video is you presenting to the camera, then an image of you. 

It needs to be eye-catching and easy to grasp at a glance. If you use a still, make sure it’s a good one; no blurring here, thanks. And if it’s an image of you or another individual, be sure to use a flattering one. You don’t want your eyes shut with a facial expression that looks like you’re saying supercalifragilisticexpialidocious backwards! Whatever you choose, make sure the image is appropriate to the video.

Give it a title, and we’re not taking Sir or Dame either!

Giving your video a title will let potential viewers know what the video is all about. If you don’t, they’ll likely pass it by none the wiser. Although each video has a short description beneath it, a short snappy caption on your thumbnail image will pique their interest and draw them in. Anything too long, and the text will be too small to read, or people will lose focus and move on. Treat the title as a headline; essentially, that’s what it is.  

A word to the wise, too: make sure your title accurately describes your video. Misleading viewers will only make them bounce.

Go crazy with colour.

Alongside your image, you can also add colourful design elements to attract more attention and make your thumbnail more appealing. These can include shapes, fonts or backgrounds (just don’t make it too busy!). Thumbnail makers, of which there are plenty, will offer much inspiration and many ideas if you find yourself a little stuck. You can use colours that contrast or coordinate, but whatever scheme you use, utilise colour to bring all the design elements together, so your final product really looks the part.

On brand, we stand!

Make sure you keep to your brand ethos.

Okay, so this is a biggy. We can’t stress enough how important branding is. You probably already know that your branding goes everywhere with you, and indeed without you; that’s the point! So make sure your YouTube thumbnail toes the line too. Whether it’s the colour scheme, your logo, your brand voice or the font of your text, ensure that your creation represents you and is in keeping with your brand rules and ideals.

Does thumbnail size matter? Yes! According to Google anyway…

When it comes to YouTube thumbnail specifications, consider taking advice from Google Support. Thumbnail resolution should be 1280 x 720 pixels, with an aspect ratio of 16:9. Ensure your final file is in a compatible format, such as JPG, GIF or PNG and stay under the file size limit of 2MB. You can go your own way, of course, just to see what it’ll look like. But we suspect taking Google’s advice on this one is a good idea!


Put yourself in your clients’ shoes. What kind of things would make you want to click on your video? Perhaps go and have a browse on YouTube and see what thumbnails attract you. And ask yourself, what would engage your clients?  


“So, where can I design one?” we hear you ask! There are numerous thumbnail makers out there including, Canva, Fotor, Snappa and Adobe Spark: another story for another blog. Have a look around to see which would suit you best. 

The thumbnail image people see has a significant impact on their response. Interested in learning more? Check this out: The YouTube Creator Academy. Or give us a call! We’re happy to talk all things graphic design any time of day (though we may need coffee first!). Contact us by phone, email, our contact form or through social media, and we’ll be there!


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