6 easy ways to improve your YouTube thumbnails and get more clicks!

A collection of quick tips that will help your videos stand out.

2023-01-22 01:25

As all creators know, a great title and thumbnail combination can be the difference between a video flopping in the algorithm or getting millions of views. It is the viewer's first look into what they can expect and is more often than not the reason for clicking - or choosing not to.
There is no single secret formula that will work for everyone when creating thumbnails. All channels are different, with unique content and equally unique viewers. Creating a thumbnail for a gaming channel is not the same as creating a thumbnail for an educational one. With that said, some tips and tricks work universally and can be applied for everyone. Let's get started.

Show, don't tell

Maybe the most effective trick, and one that is often overlooked, is the concept of "Show, don't tell". This technique, originating over a hundred years ago, originally encourages writers to progress their stories through actions and experiences rather than direct descriptions and narrative exposition. In our modern day, this same concept can, and should, be used when designing thumbnails. Let's say you have created a video where you release ten thousand bees in your living room. Rather than using your thumbnail as a billboard, make the thumbnail focus on the subject of the video, which in our example would be the bees. Don’t get us wrong, text can work in your thumbnail if done correctly – just be delicate and don’t overdo it.

Focus point

If we tell you to go to the YouTube front page, what is the first thing you see? That's right – thumbnails! This same principle also applies to your potential viewers, who will see is your thumbnail before they read your title. Being aware of this hierarchy, we can use that fact to our advantage. Make the thumbnail a focus point that makes the viewer want to see more, highlighting the most important or interesting element of the video. After doing this, you can later use your title to clarify the thumbnail and further drive the viewer's interest to a point where they feel like they have to click the video.

Target audience

Not all videos are for everyone. Although we doubt this is news to anyone, it is surprising how many creators seem to think so when creating thumbnails. Both a video about quirks of the tax system and a video about escaping giant monsters in Minecraft have their respective audiences, but you would have a hard time finding someone who would be interested in both. While a loud and vibrant thumbnail would most likely work for the gaming video, it is hard to see the target audience for the tax video clicking on it. As we mentioned earlier, there is no secret formula that works for everyone, so you might have to experiment a bit. Our advice is to think about what part of the video is the most interesting to your audience and focus the thumbnail around it. Using this technique, the rest usually falls into place by itself.

Consider different screen sizes

Most thumbnail creators work on computers, and for good reason. Computers are great when it comes to creative tasks, although it is important to remember that other devices exist. In fact, a majority of YouTube video views come from mobile devices. When it comes to creating thumbnails, we need to make sure it looks equally good on a mobile device and a TV, without losing the message you want to portray or missing important details due to a small screen.


It is important to keep your thumbnail simple enough to understand what your video is about, and generate interest, from only a quick glance. Likewise, it is important to remember that not everyone might be knowledgeable about the topic of your video. Sure, if you are making a video about cars and target an audience interested in cars, you would not be wrong in assuming your target audience knows the basics of how a car works. With that said, you can’t expect every potential viewer to know what a crankshaft does – not everyone who likes cars is mechanically knowledgeable.
When we say that you should simplify your thumbnails, we mean that you should both simplify the thumbnail enough aesthetically to a point where half a second is enough to understand what the video is about, and to simplify the core concepts you want to portray. Be careful though, as oversimplification can quickly lose the interest of your potential viewers.

Test before you upload

The most effective method of making sure your thumbnail drives the interest you want is by testing it with your audience before you upload your video. Previously, this has usually been manually done on social media or by rapidly changing thumbnails after uploading to see the real-time response, but now there is a more modern and effective method of making sure your thumbnails and titles are optimal and get the interest your video deserves. Using, you can create a one minute test with up to 20 thumbnail and title alternatives to share with your actual audience, generating easily readable and highly useful data to help you optimize your video details before you upload. And the best part? It’s free!

If you've found this article interesting, we have more guides on improving your thumbnails available on our blog. We hope you've found these tips useful and wish you good luck when creating your next thumbnail!

ThumbnailTester Admin

2023-01-22 01:25