You’ve probably heard the saying, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” The YouTube thumbnail is your viewers’ first impression of your video. A well-chosen index image can mean the difference between thousands or just a few viewers. But what makes a good video index image and how can you create a well-performing, attention-grabbing thumbnail? Find out in this article!
What is a YouTube index image?
It’s worth starting this topic with this question: a video index image is a static image/graphic/illustration that acts as a preview image of the video. It can best be compared to a book cover. Like a book cover, it should entice the potential viewer to click on the video. The term “thumbnail” or comes from the term still images. A thumbnail was a smaller version of a digital image that could be viewed by browsing through the images. Like on your phone’s gallery.
While YouTube thumbnails are not smaller versions of actual videos, it’s still important to give your viewers an idea of what they’ll see when they choose to watch your video. “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” – the saying goes, but if that were true, publishers wouldn’t invest so much time, money and effort into making book covers look exciting. The same is true of YouTube thumbnails.
Why are index images so important?
- An eye-catching, unique and interesting cover will attract more viewers.
- It gives your videos a professional look.
- If you include people or emotions in the image, it will be more inviting and personal.
- When you share or embed your video somewhere, this is the first thing the viewer will see.
- It’s also worth putting captions on the image describing what the video is about.
It’s worth knowing that by default, if you don’t select and upload a thumbnail for your video, YouTube (and other video providers) will select one of the different still images for your video. Most of the time, these will be inappropriate. In addition, no one will be able to identify what the video is about or why anyone would want to watch it. It doesn’t make the video exciting or interesting. If you don’t care what your video looks like, why should others watch it?
Vital elements of YouTube thumbnails
A custom index image gives you the opportunity to sell your video and yourself. Use the image to show why your content is worth viewing by your audience – especially if it’s on a popular topic that more people are interested in, so you stand out from the rest.
What should the thumbnail include?
Clearly convey the topic of the video (clearly readable/visible title)
If possible, show the face of the speaker in a fun and inviting way.
Include your brand (for example, your logo)
Be optimised for all devices.
This is the amount of information you should include, as it will help the viewer decide if the video is right for them.
Four tips to make your YouTube thumbnail eye-catching
Search for a topic on YouTube, it’s sure to result in hundreds, rather than thousands of videos. According to the latest YouTube statistics, more than 500 hours (!) of videos are uploaded every minute, so it’s especially important to pay attention to the thumbnail setting. How can you make your hard-made YouTube video stand out from the crowd?
A good colour makes all the difference! As well as making your video stand out, a well-chosen colour can also evoke emotion. It’s worth keeping colour psychology in mind when creating YouTube thumbnails.
Red: passion, anger, ambition
Orange: optimism, enthusiasm, friendliness
Yellow: energy, youthfulness, creativity
Blue: relaxation, calm, stability
Green: growth, nature, harmony
Purple: luxury, power, mystery
Pink: romance, empathy, femininity
White: purity, morality, peace
Black: strength, discipline, elegance
You want people who see your video to immediately know what it’s about. Videos with thumbnails that include text and numbers will get more clicks than videos with just images.
This is because the human brain tends to pause and read when it encounters text. It’s worth using this to your advantage.
If you use text in your images, make sure you always use the same colour scheme and fonts, as these will also make your videos more unique and more recognisable.
Use consistent colours or themes in your index images so that your followers always know which one is yours, no matter how many other videos appear in search results.
Consistent use of index images helps you build a positive relationship with your viewers. It improves the number of loyal viewers and also improves rankings. It also makes it easier for viewers to easily access your videos.
Make index images the right size!
YouTube index image size is 1280 x 720 pixels.
If your index image does not fit this size, it may not display properly or may be distorted or blurry. Consider the size and think about how you can make good use of this space.
Fortunately, you don’t need a lot of graphic design skills to create a sophisticated thumbnail nowadays, as there is plenty of software – also available for free – to make the job easier.
Canva – you can choose from a selection of pre-made templates, which you can then customise with your own colours
VSCO, PicMonkey, Lightroom, Photoshop – if you’re using images, it’s a good idea to edit them in a similar style beforehand. Choose an image editing software that makes it easy to create images in a similar style.
Screenshots – take a screenshot of your video, this will definitely give you an advantage. These images are sharper and have a higher resolution, so you can manupulate them better and easier.
So thumbnails are an important part of your YouTube channel. A good image will help you rank higher in search results. Create eye-catching and attractive thumbnails for your videos.