Thumbnails are HUGELY IMPORTANT to the success of a video. YouTube’s algorithm considers how many people click on a video when it shows up as a related video or on the “What to Watch” page, and then how many people go on to watch the full video that is connected to it. A good thumbnail that conveys what your video is about and inspires a click is with every moment of design you can put into it.
Last year we released a detailed and complicated thumbnail design guide for YouTubers. Since then, A LOT HAS CHANGED, and it’s mostly for the better.
The best news is that YouTube has standardized all (we think) thumbnail displays (including mobile and post-video) to 16:9. So, hooray, now you only have to design your thumbnails in one aspect ratio! Some applications on Facebook still use 4:3, but it looks fine whether you optimize for that or not.
The biggest issue I have is with the time stamps not being standardized between desktop and mobile…they take up a ton of space and I find it annoying to design around. It’s nice that they’re there for users wanting to know what they’re getting into…I just wish it the desktop and mobile thumbnails displayed the same way.
The title overlay is a little annoying to design around (it only shows up in embeds, as far as I can tell (like here on Tumblr)) but it’s also very nice to have for users who want to know what the video is called and see more information without playing the video.
So I hope this guide is helpful and I just want to say thanks to YouTube for standardizing to 16:9…it’s gonna save SO MUCH HASSLE!
For all my thumbnail designing friends.