The YouTube thumbnail is the first frame of your video that viewers see, and it’s meant to show a preview of your content. This is why it is essential to take the time to design it, but also to install, in the long term, a graphic identity for your videos and its different formats.
1. Comply with the standard YouTube thumbnail size and format
To display an optimal YouTube thumbnail, it is advisable to adopt the standard format, which will make it best showcased. Depending on the platform support, the format required for a thumbnail is as follows:
- The resolution must be 1280 x 720 pixels,
- The minimum width must be 640 pixels,
- The image must be in JPG, PNG or GIF format,
- The image must not exceed 2 MB,
- The 16:9 format is preferred.
2. Choose to show your face in a YouTube thumbnail
If you appear in the video, it is strongly recommended that you show your face in the thumbnail. The objective: to humanize the subject. Most of the time, content creators rely on a centered cutout of their face and exaggerate body language to give a taste of what their video is about. An expressive face will also attract attention more easily in a stream of videos.
If it’s advice or best practices type content, again, it’s a good idea to show that your video is embodied. If users associate a face with quality content, they will more easily turn to your next videos, and may even subscribe to your YouTube channel.
3. Use bright colors
On YouTube, the competition is fierce. The platform accounts for 720,000 hours of videos that are added every day, according to the platform’s figures in 2021. Among the ways to stand out are color and visual effects, which are present in your thumbnail. Thus, a colorful and illustrated background can make the difference and capture the attention of your viewers. Others will opt for an outfit or a detail of a certain color, which can also help contextualize the subject of your video.
4. Insert text on your YouTube thumbnail
Text has a role to play in a YouTube video’s thumbnail, though it doesn’t necessarily need to be embodied. This is particularly the case for popularization videos, for example. It is then possible to bet on a text and/or an impactful illustration image. The challenge here is to choose a key term or a short phrase, which will provide context on the subject of the video, and will be useful to the viewer. The limit: do not sink into sensationalism or a misleading title, at the risk of automatically losing the trust of users.
A channel like INA makes interesting use of text to illustrate its videos, often using an impactful and clear term or set of words on the subject of the content.
5. Apply the rule of thirds
To make composing your YouTube thumbnail easier, you can apply the rule of thirds. This consists of placing characters, objects or other important elements on imaginary lines, which cut the image into 9 equal parts. As your thumbnail is scaled down in the YouTube stream, this virtual cutout helps position key elements to fill at least two-thirds of the frame with the main subject of your video.
6. Bet on graphic consistency to be well identified
When you have found the design that suits you best, that sticks to your universe and your content, bet on an identifiable graphic charter. If you should avoid offering identical thumbnails, at the risk of boring your audience, do not hesitate to keep a common detail in your YouTube videos. This can be the typography of the text, the skin of the thumbnail or even a logo. You will be able to distinguish yourself even better with your spectators. The objective: a strong and coherent graphic identity.
7. Use a tool to create your YouTube thumbnail
Many online tools offer to create visuals adapted to social networks, using easily customizable templates. Their advantage: they do not require graphic design skills. Among these tools, Canva is essential and devotes a section to the creation of YouTube thumbnails. Other solutions, such as VistaCreate (ex-Crello), Stencil or Creative Cloud Express, software from Adobe, are identified for their creative tools dedicated to publications on social networks.