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Article: How to Design an Eye-Catching YouTube Thumbnail

How to Design an Eye-Catching YouTube Thumbnail

Here are some easy tips for designing a stunning Youtube thumbnail and competing with thousands of Youtuber online. Check this out!
Created by Jakizo |

When there are a lot of people visiting YouTube, the importance of having an appealing YouTube thumbnail has become more apparent than ever. The competition is very fierce among content creators on YouTube. 

A research stated that more than 90% of viewers on YouTube click a video because of the thumbnail. And let's be honest here, YouTube is one of the social media platforms that emphasize the visual. You will be more inclined to click something based on the thumbnail design.

The design must have the right appeal to attract subscribers and people. After all, you want more people to watch your videos on top of your regular viewers. It is worth it to have an original design. But it can be hard to keep up when you are pushed for regular content.

The most common problem is that you will end up having a stale design on your YouTube thumbnail. It seems inevitable at some point, but in fact, you can avoid it altogether. It is surprisingly easy to design a thumbnail, and you just need to know how to do it effectively.  

Created by Houssem Belabed |


Why you should think about the design

In the simplest term, the thumbnail acts as the summary for the video. Before the viewers watched the video, they'd like to see the content preview. And this is where a good design is important to have an attractive YouTube thumbnail.

Loyalty means a lot in YouTube viewership. A loyal viewer will always be watching your videos and wait for new content anytime you released one. That heightens the importance of having a good design of your YouTube thumbnail. 

One thing to remember is that online platforms will continue growing, and YouTube as one of them will be no different. It is important to keep up with the changes and gain more viewers on top of your loyal ones. 

Created by Mats de Vegt |


Key Ideas to have on YouTube thumbnail

The first thing you notice on a YouTube video is the thumbnail. It helps a lot to separate your video from many others. However, sadly, not a lot of people realize the important things to have in a YouTube thumbnail. 

Many people are often missing out on the chance to gain more viewership just because they have gained a base of followers. This is a grave mistake because the platform is constantly changing, and content creators are expected to follow suit.

Here are several key points on how to design a Youtube thumbnail that will retain your loyal viewers as well as growing them.

1. Stay consistent

This can't be stressed more. Consistency is key in making a design for your YouTube thumbnail. It's how you stand out among other videos. It is the key to keep your loyal subscribers to click your video without thinking further.

Having a consistent design, be it in the images chosen or specific wording used, is essential to build your brand and presence. Your viewers will be easy to distinguish your video from many other thumbnails just by glancing. It's all thanks to the effort to be consistent.

Keep in mind that being consistent does not mean there is no change in the thumbnail idea. You still have to improve and work on a better idea for a thumbnail to gain viewership. Work on the various visual style to know what's working and what's not.

No matter how small, your design must show how much it has evolved from the very first video you posted. Showing off the progress is always a good thing both for you and your subscribers. They will grow a kinship with you as they noticed the changes.

Created by Jakizo |

This kinship is important as they are more likely to watch your videos and suggest them to their friends. They are also more likely to not skip any ads and watch the whole video without fast-forwarding. And this is good news for the AdSense you have.

Being consistent also means you are ready with a new design every week to keep their interest. Do not take it too hard by thinking about changing your design each week. Your viewers expect a steady presence supported by an interesting YouTube thumbnail.

You can design a thumbnail that looks the same or even a screenshot from your video opening. That way, when the viewers watch the video, they will feel like they are taking a right into it. And when they know what to expect, they can turn into a loyal subscriber.

This trick has proven to work on many top-viewed videos. The psychological explanation of having such design is that how the brain sends signals to visual senses telling that it is a familiar image. Your viewer most likely will not notice if the thumbnail has a slight difference in design from the actual video.

Created by Maxim Stupak |


2. Utilize your brand

Another mistake that many people made is that they are unaware of their branding. They tried a little bit of everything and forgot their main viewership. While it is important to keep engagement high, you still need to keep an open mind to attract more people to watch your videos.

Social media platforms are constantly changing. There is always a new trend happening, either a rehash or a twist on an old one or something completely new. At any rate, the viewers will constantly ask for new content. 

The key to keep your loyal viewer base as well as gaining new ones is by having a solid brand on your channel. Branding is more than having a name for your channel. It's about having one theme that will work as the red string that connects all the videos.

The brand is the result of your constant effort to have your presence known. Constant does not mean continuous badgering. Have a break once in a while to let your viewers from thinking that you are oversaturating their attention. As you also need a break from thinking about design and content.

Once your brand has been established, you have the freedom to play around with the design as long as you are keeping it in the brand. This is important, as the brand a constant variable that essential in your design.

Created by Rubel Ahmad |


3. Have a face in the design

People enjoy seeing a face in a video. There is a familiar feeling to feel connected with the content. It doesn't have to be you, per se. But it has to be something featured in the current video. And if the video has no person in it, design an image filled with interesting imagery that will make them curious.

Many creators choose the design of their YouTube thumbnail that features their faces having various expressions. Even cooking ASMR videos will have someone's face featured whenever possible. Being photogenic can be a huge plus here since there is a lot of design that you can do.

Another thing that works is to have a silhouette or an animation on the thumbnail, as long as it is the focus of the video. Do not put an unrelated picture or expression on the design. A Youtube thumbnail must represent the video and in no way trick the people by presenting what is not in the video.

The idea is to have a familiar figure that the viewers can relate to. Building this sense of familiarity can be done much easier when there are faces in the thumbnail. If it's in no way possible to put a face in it, then you can substitute it with body parts such as hands in many cooking videos.

Created by Billy Jographics |


4. Make it watchable and readable.

Even if you think you have too much to say. Your YouTube thumbnail must have minimum words available. It is best if it's the summary of your video. If you plan to have a plot twist or a surprise, you can put it here as a teaser instead of on the title.

Keep in mind that you also need to get the right font. Your viewer would like to read the writing properly. They are expecting an extension from the title. They want more information about the content.

Even if your content is a full education with long words, the thumbnail design should not be filled with only words. Keep the wording short and attractive. Use words that will attract them to check the video.

Choose the right wording is not as tricky as it sounds. It is best to use short, simple phrases that have an impact to rouse their curiosity. It's also best to word them as inviting as possible to make them click the video. It may take a while to get the right words. But you'll learn along the way.

Another thing to watch out for is the color contrast. If you wear a green t-shirt, then you should design the YouTube thumbnail to have a pink or purple background to make you stand out. Think about color combinations that will make the thumbnail pop up.

The color palette that you can use in the design is limitless. There is no specific rule on what color you can or cannot use on the YouTube thumbnail. But the design must have one central point that will attract the viewers.

Created by Rippin |


5. Choose the right image

YouTube is a visual platform. Hence, you need to have the right image on your YouTube thumbnail. It has to be attractive and intriguing at the same time. Most content creators forget this and only choose a random screenshot.

If your content features a list of items or a before and after product, make sure that you included both images to incite curiosity. Whenever possible, include things or people that can be something out of the ordinary. Being inclusive also means that you are opening your door for more people to be curious about your channel. 

Keep in mind that you have two options for creating the design on a Youtube thumbnail. You can use a screenshot from the video. Or create a completely new image for the thumbnail. At any rate, you still need to do a little editing job to make it the right image.

When you choose to take a screenshot from a scene in the video, you need to make sure that the scene is not a spoiler yet still an essential part of the video. Having a screenshot as a Youtube thumbnail does not mean that it's free from any additional design. 

You can design a thumbnail that does not include any image from the video. It could be a still image of you from other occasions, a silhouette, or a cartoon rendering from the video's topic. When you have made the right design, you should keep one as a template for future reference.

One last thing about creating a design is the image resolution. You must know the optimum resolution to maximize the impact of your Youtube thumbnail. Keep the ratio as 16:9 with a minimum size at 640px. This will make your design stay visible without being a pixelated blur disregarding the screen resolution that your viewers have.

Created by Jorge Aguilar |


6. Understand the viewers

It's easy to know what generally can attract people to watch your videos, but it's another thing to understand your loyal viewership. Your viewers may watch your video among many other videos with similar content. Or they are watching various videos, and one of them happens to be yours. 

Youtube provides an analytic feature that will help you understand your viewership base. You could see the viewers based on their basic data such as geolocation and figure out about expanding the viewership.

Even if your channel is targeting a specific demographic, it is always a good idea to design the thumbnail that will attract a broad range of people. That way, you can broaden your viewership and will have new ideas for the content regularly. Of course, the new contents have to stay in line with your brand.

When you have a specific understanding of the viewers' demographic, you can design the thumbnail and creating more content without a problem anymore. You probably already have a few ideas by now. Work on them and see your viewership rise in numbers.

You also can use other analytic websites to analyze yours and other videos with the same demographic to see if there are other things you need to learn. There is no harm in watching other videos to learn a lesson or two.

Created by Mats de Vegt |


7. Never stop improving

Even an old dog can always learn a new trick. It is very easy to see how much you have improved based on the YouTube thumbnail design. Many content creators compared their first videos with their latest to show their evolution.

Always have a room open for discussion in the comment section. Your viewers will have something to say when they watch the video. It's always a good idea to pay attention to their suggestions on what you could improve. 

Keep in mind that there is no such thing as the perfect design. It's always the perfect design for now. Everything changes all the time. Always take your time to check out other most viewed videos in the same demographic. Take notes of their design and try to incorporate them into your thumbnails.

Incorporating other videos' into yours should not be taken literally. Do not choose the same design as other popular videos. It will only make your video one of many similar-looking Youtube thumbnail out there.

When you understood your viewers and know how to work your brand, you will grasp their attention within seconds. They will recognize your video as soon as they see it on their home page. Undoubtedly, your video will stand out with minimum effort.

Created by Slyced |


8. Clickbait is never the answer

You may feel the huge temptation to create a clickbait design. After all, you may have seen so many huge channels with large subscribers put up a Youtube thumbnail that is a clickbait one. This could be a good idea in the short term. But in the long run, this is a bad decision as you may lose subscribers.

When you monetize your channel, a Youtube thumbnail with a good design is essential to keep loyal subscribers. They are the people who will watch your videos every time Youtube alerted them that you just posted a new one.

Therefore, it is best not to betray their trust and loyalty by having a clickbait design. Other than the risk of losing loyal viewers, you also risk being avoided by potential viewers. And it's only one step above being reported for plagiarism or other copyright issues.

Created by Jorge Aguilar |



Having a design of a YouTube thumbnail that will generate clicks and subsequently growing the subscribers' list may sound like a lot of jobs. But it is a well rewarding one when you have gained regular and constant engagement with your viewers.

Being a platform that emphasizes visual attractiveness, Youtube should be the penultimate benchmark for your design skill. It's a good place to learn what works and what not in design terms. Once you get the hang of smashing a great design for the Youtube thumbnail, your subscribers will grow steadily.  

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