Thumbnails are considered a major factor in a video’s click-through rate and views. In the vast ocean of online content, a captivating thumbnail serves as a virtual storefront, enticing viewers to click and explore what lies beyond. Content creators, particularly on platforms like YouTube, understand the critical role that thumbnails play in attracting audiences. A captivating thumbnail can be the difference between a viral video and getting lost in the sea of content. 

In this blog post, we’ll discover how to make a good thumbnail for youtube and how it can significantly impact a creator’s success.

What is a YouTube thumbnail?

A YouTube thumbnail is an image that serves as a preview of a YouTube video and helps set the audience’s expectations as they access the content.

The actual term “thumbnail” originated with still images (rather than videos). It was just a condensed representation of a larger digital image that was readily observed while exploring several pictures at once.

While a video thumbnail isn’t merely a miniature replica of the video, its purpose is to provide viewers with a glimpse of what awaits them upon choosing to play it.

Despite the age-old advice against judging a book by its cover, publishers invest considerable effort in understanding how to make attractive thumbnail and enticing book covers. The same principle applies to your video thumbnail.

Example of some attractive thumbnails on Youtube

Example of some attractive thumbnails on Youtube

Why are YouTube Thumbnails so Important?

“How to make a good thumbnail for youtube ” that can grab the viewer’s attention and entice them to watch the video, while a bad thumbnail can turn them away is a tough question. Here are some reasons why YouTube thumbnails are so important: 

Capture Viewer Attention with Your YouTube Thumbnail

Given that YouTube is a visual platform dedicated to video consumption, viewers typically engage with your thumbnail before delving into the video’s title. It’s crucial to design a thumbnail that is not only visually appealing but also easily recognizable by your target audience, establishing a visual connection with your content.

Maintain a Uniform Style Across Your YouTube Thumbnails

In the realm of visual marketing, branding holds significant importance. To establish a robust brand image in the eyes of your audience, maintaining consistency in your content and thumbnail design is imperative. When you adhere to a consistent style for your thumbnails across your channel, your viewers can quickly identify your videos. This not only boosts dedicated viewership but also enhances your overall connection with the audience. Incorporating a recurring motif or pattern fosters consistency, thereby positively impacting your video rankings and facilitating easy access for viewers.

They help rank on Google

You’ve likely observed that Google search results now frequently showcase videos alongside text and web pages. This implies that your video, along with its thumbnails, has the potential to secure a prominent spot on the first page of Google. It’s a significant opportunity, and if your thumbnail isn’t compelling and authentic, your video may not make it into Google search results. That’s how crucial it is.

By fine-tuning your video thumbnails to align with Google search rankings, you enhance the likelihood of grabbing attention, enticing viewers to click on your videos, and directing traffic to your content—whether it’s on YouTube or other platforms where your videos are embedded.

They can increase click-through rates on Youtube

According to YouTube, 90% of top-performing videos use a custom thumbnail. This is because a good thumbnail can increase the video’s click-through rate, which is the number of people who click on the video after seeing it. 

A captivating and genuine video thumbnail holds the potential to enthrall viewers, prompting them to click, watch your video, explore more of your content, and possibly subscribe to your channel. Conversely, a misleading thumbnail that fails to meet expectations can leave viewers feeling disappointed. This disappointment may result in viewers cutting the video short, hitting the ‘dislike’ button, or even exiting YouTube altogether. Consequently, YouTube’s algorithms take notice of these interactions and adjust recommendations, influencing the visibility of your videos in search results, video pages, and on the YouTube homepage.

Crafting compelling and honest video thumbnails is key to maximizing the chances of attracting engaged viewers, fostering positive interactions, and ultimately boosting your video’s reach and success on YouTube.

They can help your video stand out

A thumbnail’s primary purpose is to attract the attention of potential viewers.

YouTube hosts a vast array of videos for users to explore, making it imperative for every content creator to ensure their videos capture attention. While creating good or unique content is often emphasized for standing out, the challenge lies in getting viewers to click on your videos in the first place.

Therefore, the primary emphasis when crafting a thumbnail can help draw in as many eyeballs as possible. The objective is to make your thumbnail distinctly stand out amidst the plethora of others, as this initial click is crucial to engaging viewers with your content. Thumbnails should be visually appealing stand out from other videos in the search results and get the audience’s attention at first glance.

What makes a great YouTube thumbnail?

Optimal Visual Clarity and Simplicity

Crafting an effective thumbnail demands visual clarity and simplicity. Instantly convey the video’s essence through a clean, uncluttered design. Utilize bold, contrasting colors to emphasize key elements and make your thumbnail visually arresting, capturing viewers’ attention at first glance.

With this in mind, what makes a good youtube thumbnail should be:

  • Convey your video’s subject.
  • When possible, show the face of the person speaking in a fun and inviting way.
  • Include your brand.
  • Be optimized for any device.

Narrative Intrigue and Curiosity Spark

Transform your thumbnail into a storytelling device that sparks curiosity. Similar to a movie poster, it should tantalize viewers, enticing them to click. Tease intriguing moments or promise a unique experience to motivate viewers to delve deeper into your video. 

Spark curiosity with your copy, using facial expressions, graphics, and colors to engage your target audience. Avoid duplicating your video title in the thumbnail; instead, opt for a shortened, keyword-rich phrase. The color of your text should complement the thumbnail image, delivering a simple yet compelling message about your video content. Remember, with Simplified’s AI copywriting tool, crafting captivating headline phrases becomes a breeze, allowing you to create content that resonates with your audience.

Seamless Branding Consistency

Establishing a robust online presence hinges on consistency. Maintain a unified theme, color scheme, and design elements across thumbnails to cultivate brand recognition. Familiar elements breed association with quality content, bolstering the likelihood of viewer engagement.

Branding extends beyond merely placing your logo on the thumbnail image—it involves maintaining a consistent style that facilitates easy recognition by viewers. Seize this opportunity to showcase not only your logo but also your distinctive colors, fonts, filters, and other brand elements that define your uniqueness.

Establishing a uniform design for your thumbnails imparts a cohesive appearance to your content previews, lending a polished and professional look to your online video platforms. This consistency extends to your playlists on Facebook and YouTube, presenting a unified style that simplifies the recognition of your work for viewers.

Mindful Visual Hierarchy

The strategic placement of elements within the thumbnail is crucial. Ensure the main subject stands out prominently, guiding the viewer’s gaze. Text elements, such as the video title or call-to-action, should complement the image without overpowering it. A well-organized visual hierarchy ensures effective communication of the thumbnail’s message. 

Ensuring that crucial details remain visible and accessible to viewers. The text on your thumbnail serves as a communication tool, conveying the essence of your video, so it’s crucial to position it optimally—typically to the left of the box.

When your video appears in search results, a prominent play button overlays it. Avoid placing vital information in the image’s center to prevent obstruction by the button. Additionally, ensure that the focal point of the image is strategically positioned to maintain the thumbnail’s allure consistently. Utilize the rule of thirds as a guide to determine the optimal placement of essential elements, creating a more balanced and natural visual composition.

Read more: Is it possible to remove objects from photos iPhone free

How to make a good thumbnail for YouTube

Use the right thumbnail image size 

Start by obtaining the correct dimensions and size for your thumbnail before diving into any other creative process. This foundational step ensures that you have a clear understanding of the canvas you’re working on, enabling you to maximize the impact of your custom thumbnail.

Adhering to youtube thumbnails best practices guidelines is crucial. The recommended dimensions for the image are 1280 x 720 pixels, with a minimum width of 640 pixels. The preferred aspect ratio is 16:9, a standard across YouTube except for YouTube Shorts.

Youtube thumbnail image size 

Youtube thumbnail image size (2024 updated)

Refer to this quick YouTube Thumbnail size cheatsheet by Lickd to streamline your design process.

Avoid extremes in thumbnail size—neither too large nor too small. An improperly sized thumbnail can detract from its professional appearance and attractiveness. While thumbnails may appear relatively small in search results, consider that some videos are embedded in larger formats. Ensure your thumbnail maintains a visually appealing presentation in various contexts.

Opt for a larger image that can be scaled down rather than a smaller one requiring enlargement. Quality matters, so save your thumbnail image as a JPG, PNG, GIF, or BMP to preserve its visual integrity. Keep the file size under 2MB, YouTube’s maximum limit for thumbnail uploads, to ensure seamless compatibility. Remember, a well-crafted thumbnail not only enhances discoverability but also reflects the quality of your content.

Optimize Your Thumbnail with a Striking Photo

Stand out and capture attention by understanding how to make the best thumbnail for youtube. First, incorporate a fantastic photo as your thumbnail background. A compelling image adds context to your video, serving as a teaser and familiarizing your audience with your style.

While stock images or design tools are options, using your own high-quality images for thumbnails is advisable. Though YouTube may suggest stills from your video, these often lack the visual appeal that attracts clicks.

Consider editing a chosen still with photo software for an enhanced look—an effective practice recommended by many creators.

Whether showcasing your facial expression for a reaction video or featuring a photo of a freshly baked cake for your cooking channel, including a glimpse of your video content in the thumbnail entices viewers, providing a preview of what awaits when they click to watch the full video.

Emotional Connection is Key

Harness the power of emotions to influence behavior and choices. Video marketing data underscores that thumbnails infused with emotion garner more clicks. Inject a personal touch into your video thumbnails to captivate your audience. Make appearances in your videos to foster a genuine connection, allowing your audience to know you and sense your presence. These efforts enhance the authenticity of your online communication, leaving viewers eager to engage with your content.

Realistic 80s Costume

Thumbnail of Realistic 80s Costume

Utilize a Top-notch Thumbnail Generator

Enhance your thumbnail game with the assistance of quality online thumbnail makers, making the process seamless. These tools offer access to optimal fonts and high-definition photos, ensuring your thumbnails stand out. Many come with free versions, with the option to upgrade to a pro version for additional features.

Consider user-friendly platforms like Photoshop, and Canva to edit images and to use AI to remove background effortlessly.  

Your thumbnail serves as a visual ambassador for your YouTube channel and videos. Ensure it not only looks fantastic but also aligns with your style and brand. A reliable thumbnail maker, like Canva, can be your creative guide throughout the process.

Read more: Top 5 Ways to Remove Background iPhone in Seconds

Tips for creating beautiful YouTube thumbnails

Youtube thumbnails best practices involve selecting vibrant and relevant images, ensuring clear and readable text, and maintaining a cohesive color scheme aligned with your brand. Frame your main subject strategically, infuse emotion for a connection with your audience, and maintain consistency for brand recognition. Opt for high-resolution images, experiment with different styles, and consider mobile-friendly design. Leverage online thumbnail makers like Canva or Videobolt to simplify the process. Tell a story through your thumbnails, avoid clutter, and remember that each thumbnail is a visual representation of your content’s quality and style, acting as a crucial gateway to engage viewers.


This blog explored the essence of YouTube thumbnails and their critical role in attracting viewers. We discussed the importance of creating compelling thumbnails and provided practical tips on crafting visually appealing ones. From defining the role of thumbnails to offering actionable advice on their creation, this post serves as a concise guide for content creators aiming to enhance their online presence and engage a broader audience