Thumbnails play a huge role in making people click on your video. According to YouTube, 90% of the best performing videos have custom thumbnails.

It’s the first thing viewers notice when they scroll through your channel or the search results. Besides providing a sneak peak into your content, they’re a viewer’s first impression of your content. If your thumbnail is just a randomly generated still, chances are viewers will scroll past onto another video.

You don’t want that! It’s easy to create custom thumbnails, and here’s a quick guide:



1. Create a Thumbnail in the Right Size.

Youtube Optimal Thumbnail (1280x720)

Optimal Size (1280 x 720)

The ideal thumbnail dimension is 1280 x 720 pixels, with a minimum width of 640 keeping an aspect ratio of 16:9.

Youtube Optimal Thumbnail (640x320)

Minumum Size (640 x 320)

Keep to YouTube’s thumbnail size requirements. Anything smaller may appear blurred or pixelated. While thumbnails look small when they show up in a list, they also grow into a video’s full size when they appear as the next video suggestion.

Upload your thumbnail in .JPG, .GIF, .BMP, or .PNG formats. Google also suggests keeping the file under the 2MB limit. You want a large image that can be sized down, not a small one that will be expanded. Instasize can help you create a right-sized YouTube thumbnail instantly.



2. Design the Right Thumbnail.

Your thumbnail has to grab attention. While YouTube generates stills you can choose from, it may not give you the most optimum screen shot. Not only can they look awkward, but you also lose the opportunity to apply your branding.

Here are some tips for designing thumbnails that could increase views:

  • Design simple graphics or illustrated images for content types that don’t feature people

  • Add your title on the thumbnail graphic. Viewers look at the thumbnail before checking out the title underneath.

  • Use a custom screenshot that will draw your viewers’ attention, and strategically add the title over the image.

  • If there are no screenshots that will work, take a photo from the same event or of the same person. You can even stage a scene in the video for a more photogenic version of a scene from your video.

  • Add branding such as using your brand colors or fonts. If you’re the face of your brand, a screenshot of you might be the only branding you’ll need!

Experiment and get creative. Once you find a thumbnail look that gets views, you’ll have a template to work with.



YouTube has grown from being a video-sharing site to today’s second most popular search engine. From cat videos to vlogs and movie trailers to music videos, it offers entertainment for all types of audiences. The large audience potential means you need to be deliberate in your video content, and this include YouTube thumbnails.

Don’t take any element of your channel for granted, and this includes YouTube thumbnail size. With carefully crafted thumbnails, you can boost viewership and gain more subscribers, expanding your marketing reach in the online community.