YouTube Thumbnail Size – 13 Tips To Make A Thumbnail Design That Stands Out

Discover the what is the right YouTube thumbnail size and 13 amazing tips that can help you make your YouTube video thumbnail stand out from the rest.

Does your thumbnail size matter?

Just like in a culinary competition, first impressions matter a lot on YouTube.

Every 60 seconds, more than 500 videos are uploaded on YouTube, translating to over 30000 videos every hour.

With such a massive amount of content, grabbing the viewer’s attention from the get-go is vital.

To immediately grab your user’s attention, use a striking and creative thumbnail on your YouTube videos.

A thumbnail is a visual, clickable snapshot that briefly portrays your video’s content.

The reasons why thumbnails are important are enlisted below:

  • Thumbnails are easy to sort and group into viewable pages which gives your viewer freedom of choice when scanning your content.
  • Beautiful and engaging thumbnails help you stand out from the competition.
  • Thumbnails help portray your brand’s core mission and value.
  • A consistent channel thumbnail helps you get identified easier and faster.
  • Using video thumbnails in emails can even increase email click-through rates by over 21%

Thumbnails are essential for your channel’s online visibility, and one of the factors that directly affect your thumbnail performance is thumbnail size.

How big or how small is a good thumbnail? 

This is a question many creators battle with constantly.

In this article, we will address this question and tell you about the 13 tips that help make a thumbnail design stand out.

So let’s get started! 

What Is The YouTube Thumbnail Size?

According to YouTube, an excellent thumbnail should have the following dimensions.

  • Have a 16:9 aspect ratio.

  • Have a 1280×720  resolution with a minimum of 640 pixels.

  • File size of 2MB or less.

  • Upload format of JPG, GIF, or PNG.

YouTube advises that your thumbnail should be as big as possible.

This is because you can embed a YouTube video.

When you embed a video, you can watch it from a different platform apart from YouTube.

When you watch a video on other sites, the thumbnails displayed are automatically as big as the video player.

In this case, a big thumbnail will show up clearly on the player, while a smaller thumbnail will be unclear and have inferior quality.

Tips To Make A Thumbnail Design That Stands Out

Having a thumbnail design that stands out is extremely crucial.

The 13 tips that can help you in making your thumbnail design stand out include avoiding clickbait images, creating custom thumbnails, using still photos, considering screenshots from the video, adding text, using a face, centering the content, adhering to the brand colors, contrasting the colors, not overloading, using suitable fonts, optimizing for different devices, and knowing the competition. 

1. Avoid Clickbait Images And Titles

Clickbait images and titles are misleading, deceptive and display videos not aligned to the title.

Clickbait is a real issue in today’s hyper-promotional world, where views, likes, tweets, and shares are more important than integrity.

Don’t fall into the clickbait trap in a bid to increase traffic to your channel, as this usually backfires

Build credibility and trust by delivering what you promise.

2. Create A Custom Thumbnail

YouTube Thumbnail Size

By default YouTube automatically generates and assigns a thumbnail to every video you upload.

I am sure you know how freebies work. 

The default thumbnails are generic and take a snapshot of any scene within your video; not really what you need to be unique.

Stand out of the crowd by creating a unique and captivating custom thumbnail. 

Many online thumbnail creators allow you to start with a blank canvas and work your way through to an epic finish.

Try this out.

Use Picmonkey’s pre-size canvas template and add graphics, photos, and text on a blank sheet.

Next, use the crop canvas tool to automatically resize photos to thumbnail size while maintaining image quality and clarity.

Additionally, you can use a YouTube thumbnail template. 

This allows you to craft high-quality YouTube thumbnails fast and efficiently.

3. Use A Still Photo

YouTube Thumbnail Size

Still images are the most basic thumbnail design but still work great for DIY, cooking, fitness, or even craft channels where the final product tells everything about the video.

A video titled ‘’how to bake brown muffins in 20 minutes’’ will do great with a clear, high-quality shot of the final product; the muffin.

To get the perfect still shot, take a high-resolution photo of your product or props that you need, add comments, and upload your video.

4. Consider A Screen Shot Of Your Video

YouTube Thumbnail Size

The whole point of using thumbnails is to give viewers a preview and build curiosity about your video.

One great way of doing that is to take snapshots of the actual video and use it as a thumbnail.

When using screenshots, use high-quality, clear shots that adequately convey the tone and message of the video.

Spruce up your screenshot by adding relevant graphics and text.

Additionally, you can photoshop celebrities into your screenshots; after all, people identify better with Ads with a human touch.

Just be careful not to overdo things and avoid clickbait at all costs.

5. Add Descriptive Text

YouTube Thumbnail Size

Fine, you got a great product with a beautiful and striking thumbnail.

Do you want to make things even better? 

Try adding text to your thumbnails. 

This will allow you to inform viewers of all the incredible benefits your video contains.

A descriptive text gives context to your thumbnails and helps users understand your videos better.

Text is great for SEO

Using high-traffic keywords, Google understands the video better and will allow your video to show up in relevant searches.

Here are a few tips to consider when using text on thumbnails.

  • Use clear and compelling language.
  • Use the right font and background color of the letters. 
  • Use keywords in your descriptions.

6. Use A Face In Your Image

YouTube Thumbnail Size

“The eyes are the windows to the soul.”

This is especially true for an engaging and welcoming thumbnail.

Nothing can replace the human touch in how we build relationships. 

So yes, a lovely, stunning graphic image for your thumbnail is excellent, but if you want to go deeper and increase your views, use a face.

A human face builds curiosity and interest in your viewers while lending a personal touch to your thumbnail.

Apply these tips when using a face in your thumbnails:

  • Use a clear, high-resolution close-up of the face.
  • Have a smiling and welcoming shot but if the video requires it, you can incorporate an angry, confused, or bewildered face shot.
  • Ensure that the eyes are visible as the eyes convey emotions and speak to your viewer.

7. Center The Content

YouTube Thumbnail Size

The point of having a thumbnail is to give viewers a snippet or preview of what’s in your video, right?

If that’s the case, then put essential information front and center.

It will be counterproductive having a visually captivating thumbnail but with the relevant information on the sides or margins.

Ensure a perfect balance between your graphics and text; none should overshadow the other.

Use a catchy slogan or cat phrase, dead-center of your thumbnail where it’s visible.

8. Adhere To Your Brands Color Scheme

YouTube Thumbnail Size

A thumbnail is a visual tool that hooks viewers by sight.

What better way of drawing attention and building interest than by using visually appealing colors?

Use photo editing software to edit and improve your thumbnail color scheme.

Here are a few tips on how to optimize your color usage.

  • Use contrasting colors to create attention and interest as contrasting colors draw the eye and help your thumbnail stand out from the crowd.
  • Bright and bold colors are great but use them appropriately.
  •  Use a consistent color scheme across all your online content that will portray your brand as it will help you stand out and be easily recognizable.
  • YouTube uses three primary colors on its platform; red, white, and black, avoid these colors if you want to stand out; otherwise, your thumbnail will disappear in a sea of colors.

9. Use Color Contrast For Outstanding Details

YouTube Thumbnail Size

It’s a fact that contrasting colors grab your attention better than dull colors. 

Leverage this fact to create thumbnails with excellent contrast.

Here are some tips to consider when creating thumbnails with high contrast.

  • Use photo editing software like adobe spark, fotor, fotojet, and snappa to create high-contrast images.
  • Don’t overdo things; finding the perfect balance is the secret to producing truly stunning thumbnails. 
  • Balance your contrast to create a natural-looking, creative thumbnail.

10. Don’t Overload Your Thumbnail With Details

YouTube Thumbnail Size

Ever heard of the phrase “less is more?’’

Well, that is particularly true for youtube thumbnails. 

You want to draw interest and attract viewers, not bombard and kill them with over information.

Most thumbnails look cluttered and disorganized because of having too much information on them.

For better results, create a sleek, lean, functional, and minimalist thumbnail.

One great way of doing this is to use white spaces and negative spaces effectively.

These spaces allow you to draw attention to the central theme or message of your thumbnail.

Do the following to avoid overcrowding in your thumbnails.

  • Use clear visible text; don’t overuse text, as it will dilute the effectiveness of the thumbnail.
  • White spaces and negative spaces are a great way of decluttering your thumbnails as these two attributes allow you to create a stunning, sleek, and efficient thumbnail.
  • Have a central theme and build your thumbnail around it. 
  • Divide your thumbnail face effectively and allocate different components to a fixed area within your thumbnail. 

11. Choose A Suitable Font

YouTube Thumbnail Size

Your writing font affects your thumbnail in more ways than you expect. 

Remember, apart from graphics, the next important thing that viewers see on your thumbnail is text.

Thumbnail text is essential in providing context to your thumbnail image. 

The text explains the core theme and call to action of thumbnails.

This is why it’s important to use a great writing tool to achieve the best text.

But how does your font affect your thumbnails?

  • The right font attracts viewers as unfortunately, some fonts are a turn-off and push people away.
  • Fonts affect emotions, moods, and feelings; a happy, upbeat text will have a different font from a sad, serious text.
  • Fonts reflect professionalism so keeping a good balance between font type and images on your thumbnails portrays a positive touch.
  • Fonts create a rhythm and build recognition so using a consistent font type, color, and text across your channel allows people to identify with your brand more.

12. Optimize For Different Devices

YouTube Thumbnail Size

More than 90% or 4.28 billion internet users access the worldwide web via mobile devices.

It’s no secret that the world is interconnected, especially in this digital age. 

Humans now have the opportunity to access the internet across multiple devices and platforms.

To reach your viewers better, optimize your content to be optimally visible on different gadgets.

Thumbnails with poor formats and design affect your video’s loading speed and quality on other internet devices. 

If not optimized, these will cost your channel views.

Here are a few tips to optimize your thumbnails for cross-platform engagements.

  • Use compression tools to reduce the size of your thumbnails as this will improve page loading speeds, especially on mobile devices.
  • Use the best image formats that will display correctly on both desktop and mobile gadgets, i.e., JPEG, PNG, or GIF.
  • The size of your thumbnails directly affects how it appears on different platforms; a thumbnail that may look good on a desktop may be a flop on mobile so follow the thumbnail recommended size discussed in this article.

13. Check Out What Your Competitors Are doing

YouTube Thumbnail Size

Iron sharpens iron, right?

Well, if that’s the case, then your competitors should be your greatest source of inspiration.

Your competition is an abbreviated version of a market research company, mainly if you both serve the same audience with similar content.

Learn the tricks of your competitors, their strong and weak points and how their clients interact with them.

Prepare a thumbnail audit checklist and use it to compare with your competitor’s thumbnails.

Ideally, look at competitors thumbnails focusing on:

  • The technical comparison including loading speed, image formats, compression factors, etc
  • Design, structure, and general layout of thumbnails.
  • Text comparison; check for the best keywords and phrases.

Another crucial aspect is to consider viewer’s feedback on your competitor’s channel. 

This feedback will give you an idea of what viewers want—leverage on viewer’s feedback to improve the quality of your thumbnails.


Thumbnails are billboards or windows to your content and give a quick view of what your video is all about. 

When appropriately used, thumbnails can drive high organic traffic to your site and increase your lead conversion. 

Ensure that your thumbnails are professionally created, well-optimized, and capture your channel’s core theme and values.

We hope you found this article helpful!

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