Create Highly Clickable YouTube Thumbnails

Ihtisham Ul Haq Khan
7 min readJan 21, 2024

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When it comes to growing on YouTube, your thumbnails must be highly clickable for your channel to go viral. I am warning you that if you, as a new YouTuber, are not paying attention to bettering your thumbnails, you will not be doing good on YouTube. After the title of the video, a thumbnail is the only thing that YouTube users consider when they decide whether to click and open any particular video or not. You might have put a lot of effort into the creation of your video but what if viewers do not find your video thumbnail to be compelling enough to click on it. This is where thumbnails come into play.

In this post I have shown some tips on how you can make your YouTube thumbnails more professional and highly clickable that will get thousands if not millions of clicks. You can either invest your time and manually practice these thumbnail design tips or you can cheaply hire someone on Fiverr who will create attractive thumbnails for your videos. I have provided links to some great thumbnail designers who work on Fiverr.

1. Focus on the main element

You must have some object, person or thing to focus on in a way that will support the main idea or topic of your video. You can use a photo of your face as many other successful YouTubers do. But make sure that your photo occupies 1/3rd of the whole thumbnail. The rest of the space will be used for adding other elements.

Thumbnail created by Fiverr freelancer: @freelancersomu
Thumbnail created by Fiverr freelancer: @freelancersomu

Looking at the above thumbnails, we see that the photo of the subject appears in the 1/3rd of the thumbnail and the rest of the space is occupied by other elements and text. First thumbnail focuses on the car. The text and the photo of the car together tells the visitor that this video is about this new Tesla car. The author has also used the photo of Elon Musk, the owner of Tesla.

The second thumbnail shows an expensive villa and the photo of its owner. The main focus of this thumbnail is on the expensive villa. Price of the villa is written in a clean bold text on the yellow background. Similarly, this thumbnail also has two main elements which are the person and the villa. Looking at these examples, we learn that showing and focusing on the main elements of your video in your thumbnails look appealing and more attractive.

2. Text

Always add clean and readable text to your thumbnails. You can emphasize something in text form by increasing text size, making it bolder and using different but correct and readable colors. While choosing fonts, you must prioritize the cleanliness, readability and overall vibe of the thumbnail.

Thumbnail created by Fiverr freelancer: @vkdesigns1

You must also use correct placement, alignment and text effects for your thumbnail to look good and be more clickable. The second thumbnail lacks the rules of text in thumbnail design, and it looks so ugly. Adding long texts makes the thumbnail look ugly and busy. While the first thumbnail uses clean and readable text fonts, simple readable colors and it comparatively looks better because of the correct amount of text, placement and alignment.

3. Overall color of the thumbnail

Use complementary or contrasting colors in your thumbnails to pop out as a different brand in the YouTube search results. You should also consider the text rules while choosing overall color for your thumbnail. Do not choose a color which makes any text difficult to read or makes some elements in your thumbnail hard to be seen. You can use different types of effects for the text and thumbnail elements to be distinguished from the background. But if you don’t know much about how to create or add these effects, I advise you not to complicate your thumbnail design and rather choose a simple background color.

Thumbnail created by Fiverr freelancer: @abdelfattahhmai

Both thumbnails use dark backgrounds, but the second thumbnail makes the text hard to read on smaller screens. You must use contrasting colors between the text and the background. Like the first thumbnail also uses a dark background but the text is in white and yellow which makes the text easily readable and pop out of the background. It makes the second thumbnail more appealing to the visitors.

Using bright colors in the background really help your video look attractive and appealing among other videos which YouTube shows to its visitors on the search page. Keep in mind to follow all the text guidelines when choosing background colors.

4. Style consistency

Once you pick a style for your thumbnails, make sure you keep it consistent. By style I mean the overall vibe of your thumbnail. I mean the main thumbnail color, text size, color and effects, the appearance of any subject, and fonts etc. When the thumbnail style is unique and you keep it consistent, it helps YouTube users identify your videos quickly and reduces the time a YouTube user will decide to click on your video. Any viewer who has previously watched any of the videos, immediately comes to know that it’s your video. Gradually, it will also make your channel pop out as a unique and trustworthy brand on YouTube.

Image from the YouTube channel: GROW WITH KHADIN

These two images are taken from the same channel. First image shows thumbnails of older videos while the second image shows thumbnails of recent videos. In the first image, the thumbnail style is not consistent at all. Some thumbnails have smaller texts and while others have large and bold texts. They are not clean, so many text and other elements are present. The second image shows the recent thumbnails of the same channel. These thumbnails consistently show a subject face and less but readable text is used. Which makes them comparatively cleaner. Although, these thumbnails are still not consistent in the background and text color. But still they look much better as compared to the thumbnails in the first image.

5. Tell or show something which grabs attention

YouTube shows video titles separately below the video thumbnails. So, you don’t need to add your title to your thumbnail. Instead, you can write something else which grabs the visitors’ attention, or you can add some visual elements which creates curiosity. You can play a psychological game with the YouTube viewers. You should take some time and think about what you can write or add to the thumbnail which will make viewers click on your video.

Thumbnail created by Fiverr freelancer: @hamzaelhaiti
Thumbnail created by Fiverr freelancer: @hamzaelhaiti

The above thumbnails are an example from the money-making niche. In addition to beautiful design, these thumbnails are also really compelling for the YouTube audience who are interested in online money making. The first thumbnail has a photo of money and $1000 in text which makes the viewer think that this video teaches how to earn $1000. Same is true for the second thumbnail. Which shows how much money can you make by having a niche specific website. The amount of money is highlighted in yellow.

So this is how you can tell or show something which is really for the viewer, or it makes the viewer really curious to click and start watching your video. But this psychological trick can be implemented in different ways. It should also be noted that you will have to play differently in different niches.

Let’s see one more example from the gaming niche.

Thumbnail created by Fiverr freelancer: @vkdesigns1

Comparing these two thumbnails we see a big difference. The second thumbnail is not designed in a correct way. Most importantly, this thumbnail does not tell or show something which can grab the attention of this game’s audience and hence it fails to attract the visitor’s attention. While the first thumbnail has a great worth looking design. Moreover, it is more clickable for the audience of that particular game. The author of this video shows a gun, his kill streak and tells the audience how you can win more matches with this gun and equipment which he is going to reveal in this video. This makes the audience of this particular game more attracted towards this video.

So, this is more like a psychological way to convince the visitor to click on your video. If your YouTube channel is new, you must pay great attention to your thumbnails. Though the tips and rules I explain in this article are not hard and fast and they may change according to the type of the audience your YouTube niche has. Audiences in some niches are more attracted by clean, aesthetical and well-designed thumbnails. But we also have audiences in some niches which are more attracted by less designed, raw and real thumbnails. Thus, the methods through which you make your thumbnails more clickable is different in different niches. It all depends on what kind of YouTube audience you have.

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links.

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Ihtisham Ul Haq Khan

A passionate digital marketer. Who loves to write on how to grow online.