YouTube Thumbnails: What You Need To Know

Follow these steps to draw more viewers to your content!

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

So you’ve posted a killer video, but why aren’t the views aren’t coming in as expected? Chances are that your thumbnail is the one killing your video’s performance. Don’t panic! Here’s a breakdown of what to have in mind to make an irresistible thumbnail for your video.

The thumbnail is the first thing a user sees when browsing for videos, and it gives them a sneak peek of the content within the video. A well-designed and relevant thumbnail can greatly increase the chances of a video being clicked, watched, and shared, boosting its popularity and increasing its visibility. Mr Beast is the most prominent example of a channel with very attractive and well-designed thumbnails with very high click-through rates.

[Picture of Mr Beast’s main videos page]

So what’s the formula for the perfect thumbnail?

Even the most complex thumbnail can be broken down into a few clearly identifiable elements:

Main element/s: this is usually where you want the audience to look first. It can be an object, a human face, or even text. For this main element to attract attention and stand out, you can use strong color contrast, the difference in size, and leading lines, among other graphic design principles. You don’t want to have too many main elements, or you’ll lose the main desired focus.

Background: the main elements should be carefully supported by a background that is not too flat nor too busy. Your main goal is that the background doesn’t attract attention to itself over the main elements.

Text: a caption can be used to complement the main elements and to help communicate the message of the thumbnail. Text can be extremely useful for grabbing the viewer’s attention and it can become the main element itself.

Call to action: The main goal here is to create an urge to click on the thumbnail to quench your curiosity, and without this element, the thumbnail won’t succeed.


    1. Make it visually appealing: Use bright colors and attention-grabbing images. Use color and size to create an attractive contrast between your images.

    2. Keep it relevant: The thumbnail should accurately represent the content of the video. Don’t clickbait your viewers.

    3. Use text sparingly: Use text only if necessary and make sure it is legible for mobile users.

    4. Make it unique: Stand out from other videos by using original images and designs.

    5. Use high-resolution images: A clear, sharp thumbnail will attract more views.

    6. Consider the size: The thumbnail should be 1280 x 720 pixels to display correctly on all devices.

    7. Keep it simple: Avoid a busy composition and stick to one or two main elements.

    8. Test different thumbnails: Use A/B testing to determine which thumbnail performs best.

    9. Use human faces: People are naturally drawn to faces, so include a person in your thumbnail if possible.

    10. Follow the guidelines: Make sure your thumbnail complies with YouTube’s community guidelines, including avoiding violence, explicit content, and misleading information.

    Before you even begin production of your video, think of a thumbnail and a title for your video. Is it a thumbnail you would click on? If the answer is yes, then create a video around that idea. If you plan ahead for your thumbnail, you’ll actually be able to capture the assets you need during production, rather than having to do some post-production magic after you’re done shooting your content.


    Tags: YouTube, Thumbnails, Creator, Content Creation