close menu

How to Make YouTube Thumbnails that Get Clicks: Size, Dimensions, Best Practices

How to Make YouTube Thumbnails that Get Clicks: Size, Dimensions, Best Practices

Acing the world of YouTube is a creator’s dream.

As YouTube grew in popularity, standing out from the competition became a problem for many. Creators left no stone unturned to get clicks to their videos. But holding the ever-diminishing attention span of YouTube users was a challenge not everybody could overcome.

YouTube thumbnail dimensions

Enter thumbnails, and you get an easy way to attract more viewers.

Since YouTube requires every video to have a thumbnail image, ensuring that you have the right-sized thumbnail is as important as making it engaging.

But do you know the correct YouTube thumbnail size?

Probably not. Well, that’s what this guide aims to help you with.

This guide is an excellent starting point for creating an incredible YouTube thumbnail strategy.

In this post, you’ll learn about the correct YouTube thumbnail dimensions, how to make YouTube thumbnails and some of the best practices for creating thumbnails that bring your videos the clicks they merit.

Let’s begin.

What is a YouTube Thumbnail?

A thumbnail is an image that tells the viewer about the content it accompanies. Think of it as a cover of a video or a blog post. It helps you give a quick and brief explanation of the topic you’re going to discuss and bring views to your content by attracting clicks.

Now, coming to a YouTube thumbnail. It’s an image representing information about a YouTube video and its context. So, this small preview image helps bring a YouTube user’s interest toward your video, and influences them to click, which then redirects them to your video.

What size are YouTube Thumbnails?

According to the YouTube Help Center, a thumbnail should be as large as possible. Now, if you’re wondering what size are YouTube thumbnails, the platform recommends the following:

  • YouTube Thumbnail Resolution: 1280×720 along with minimum width of 640 pixels
  • YouTube Thumbnail Image Formats: JPG, GIF, or PNG
  • YouTube Thumbnail Size Limit: Under 2MB
  • YouTube Thumbnail Aspect Ratio: 16:9

Why do YouTube Thumbnails even matter?

We know that a YouTube thumbnail helps you convey your video’s message to your audience without too much space. But there are more benefits of using a compelling thumbnail for your YouTube videos:

To build up curiosity: Piquing the interest of YouTube users is a hard nut to crack, especially when there’s a sea of video content out there. However, as thumbnails are often the first thing viewers see on YouTube, you can use text and exciting titles to stop the scroll and stimulate curiosity.

To improve click-through rates: Building up interest for your YouTube videos is a terrific way to increase clicks. After all, the more you stand out and attract viewers, the higher are your chances of bringing in more views for your videos.

To drive engagement: Your video’s engagement is directly linked to the clicks it gets. So, when a good thumbnail brings in more clicks, you can rest assured that it will drive engagement in the form of likes, shares, comments, and even subscriptions.

To improve branding: YouTube thumbnails also offer an excellent opportunity to boost branding. When you use your brand fonts, colors, or even your image in your video’s thumbnail, you develop and foster a brand aesthetic that ultimately leads to better brand awareness and recall.

To improve a video’s overall production value: It isn’t just about the video and audio quality when it comes to a video’s overall production quality. Visual elements like a thumbnail provide an enhanced viewer experience. So, include an engaging and stunning custom thumbnail that lets you take your video’s overall production value up a notch.

How to Make a Thumbnail for YouTube?

While YouTube automatically pulls three still images from your video to be used as thumbnails, it’s always better to create custom thumbnails for the reasons mentioned above.

And contrary to popular belief, creating a YouTube thumbnail is pretty straightforward – if you use Wave.video’s online thumbnail maker.

Step 1 – Create or upload a video

Although creating a video on Wave.video is a cinch, you can also upload your video or use a template to get started. To level up, you can add text, use layouts, and even add elements like GIFs and stickers.

Upload a video

Step 2 – Pick a thumbnail

Next, move the play head to the frame you’d want to create a thumbnail out of. Then you can add text (if not already done) and make it visually appealing before you download the custom thumbnail.

Pick a YouTube thumbnail

Step 3 – Export the custom YouTube thumbnail

Now, click “Publish” and select “Current frame as image” from the options. Your video thumbnail will now be generated and downloaded. You can then upload it to YouTube and start generating clicks, thanks to one of the best thumbnail makers!

Download your thumbnail

Note: You can save frames of your video in the .jpeg, .png, or .gif (static) format.

Wave.video thumbnail maker

Make your own thumbnails in several clicksTry it now!

How to add a Custom YouTube Thumbnail to your video?

Now that you know how to make a thumbnail for YouTube, add it to the platform by following these simple steps:

1. Go to YouTube Studio and log in.

2. Click on the “Content” button in the left-side toolbar

Creator Studio Content

3. Select the video and then open “Details”.

Channel content

4. Under the “Thumbnail” tab, click “Upload thumbnail” to upload your custom YouTube thumbnail.

YouTube thumbnail

5. Once uploaded, tap “SAVE” on the top right.

Creating Amazing YouTube Thumbnails: 7 Best Practices

Here are seven YouTube thumbnail best practices that can help you set a baseline for your brand’s YouTube thumbnail strategy and achieve your engagement goals.

1. Use the correct YouTube thumbnail dimensions

They say, well begun is half done. So, ensure that you start your thumbnail creation process by keeping YouTube’s thumbnail dimensions in mind.

As mentioned earlier, a YouTube thumbnail must be 1280 x 720 pixels, with 640 pixels as a minimum width. Plus, the recommended aspect ratio is 16:9.

Even though thumbnail images show up much smaller, creating them using the right size guarantees top quality – something as amazing as Apple’s YouTube thumbnails.

YouTube thumbnail dimensions

2. Add text

Adding a text heading is a must if you want to elevate your video thumbnail. No matter how interesting the thumbnail image, adding text helps communicate the idea behind the video. In addition to delivering the context of your video, the text also makes the thumbnail look great.

Plus, you don’t have to go fancy! Even a couple of keywords conveying the topic of your thumbnail will work. For example, CNBC adds the main keyword of their video to the thumbnails, and that makes the context of the videos pretty evident:

Add text

3. Tell them what’s there

Whether you’re a seasoned creator or starting a new YouTube channel, remember that a thumbnail image should accurately tell your viewers what’s there in the video. This means – no misleading for clickbait. Everyone hates it, mainly when they invest their time and effort in your video.

Plus, it hurts the Audience Retention metric on YouTube that determines how long your viewers stick to the video and watch it after clicking. Using clickbait can make them leave the video and result in higher bounce rates which will stop showing your videos in search results.

Ouch!

So, create your YouTube thumbnail to deliver information, not gain clicks. Use text, images, and elements that depict the video’s context most engagingly. Take some inspiration from SAM THE COOKING GUY:

Stay relevant Sam the cooking guy

4. Focus on branding

When you create thumbnails for your YouTube videos, don’t forget to add your brand elements, as they’re a capstone to your brand awareness. From choosing the background as your brand color to using your brand logo on every thumbnail — there are several ways to add to your brand aesthetic and recall by cleverly weaving different branding elements into the thumbnail.

Check out how Alux.com does it right with its YouTube thumbnails.

Focus on branding

5. Stay consistent with your YouTube thumbnails

Irrespective of the style or layout you choose, staying consistent is essential. It will make it easy for viewers to identify your videos from the influx of content. You can create different versions of your thumbnails based on the video category, but the idea is to have the overall layout consistent.

For instance, at Wave.video, we stick to consistency by having a layout with a solid color background, black text, and an image of the video host. It helps our viewers recognize our videos while browsing YouTube and adds to our branding too.

Wave.video YouTube channel

6. Use negative space and white space wisely

Negative space is the space around the subject in a photo. Think of it as the breathing space between the focal point and the background. In comparison, white space is the space where you put content. Now, think of it as the breathing space for different text and design elements for better navigation and understanding.

By using the negative space and white space, you can make your thumbnail look less cluttered. So, if you choose an image that seems too busy, you can always add some negative space and white space to make it a little less heavy to the eyes. It also adds a specific class to the thumbnail, giving you that professional quality thumbnail you’ve always wanted.

See how Mashable transforms busy images with white space to create exciting thumbnails for their YouTube videos.

White space Mashable YouTube channel

7. High contrast could be your best friend

A big part of a video thumbnail is its color. And choosing a striking color contrast is one way to garner attention and drive clicks to your videos.

But, how to get high contrast in your video thumbnails? By choosing two very different colors. For example, green and white. On the other hand, if you use two similar colors like green and teal, the contrast will be low, and so would be your thumbnail’s CTR.

Here are some fantastic examples of high contrast thumbnails from HubSpot Marketing:

Hubspot Marketing Contrast Example

Ready To Elevate Your YouTube Videos With Custom Thumbnails?

Strong brand recall and awareness are critical for anyone struggling to make it big through their YouTube videos. This is where creating compelling and relevant custom thumbnails comes in. And that’s why you must know the proper YouTube thumbnail resolution.

Now that you’ve learned what size are YouTube thumbnails and how to make a thumbnail for YouTube, you’re all set to run a solid thumbnail strategy in tandem with other aspects of your video marketing.

Thanks to Wave.video, you can achieve most of your video marketing goals using just one online tool.

Go on and also check out how to add transparent lower third overlays, automatic captions and custom subtitles, make video collages and do a lot more using our handy platform – all while saving your valuable time.

We’ll keep you in the loop!

Join 5,000 marketers who read our articles first