The Rule Of Thumbnails: 5 Considerations For Optimizing Video Thumbs

By Jeff Pelletier June 02, 2015 Hosting, Metrics
Jeff Pelletier

Jeff Pelletier

Jeff is the co-founder and CEO of Basetwo Media, a video production agency in Vancouver that helps businesses get results with video.

thumbnails

When people search for videos, they tend to do so very quickly – often in a matter of seconds. If you want them to click on your video, try to catch their attention with an attractive thumbnail.

This tiny image functions as a link to your video, but it’s much more than that. It also acts as a poster for your video. Either it will convince people to watch, or it will deter them from watching.

Most hosting platforms will automatically choose a thumbnail for you – usually a still image extracted from the middle of the video. In most cases, that image won’t be good enough, so you’re much better off designing and uploading your own. Here are some tips to help you design a winning thumbnail.

1. Explain Your Video

The first priority is to show potential viewers what your video is about. Of course, a thumbnail can’t accommodate a great deal of information, so choose an image that represents your video’s overall content.

2. Put a Title in Your Thumbnail

This is one of the few times that a word is worth a thousand pictures. Sometimes our eyes are more drawn to the thumbnail text than the actually title in the search window. Just don’t write too much; the thumbnail is already pretty cramped.

3. Choose an Enticing Image

Naturally you want an image that will draw the eye, and entice people to click. Some people have taken this to extremes, using swimsuit models for thumbnails in videos that have nothing to do with swimsuits (or models). There’s no point getting people to your video just to have them stop watching.

4. Make it pop

Solid backgrounds, bright colors, bold patterns – all of these will help to make your image stand out. Even a snazzy border can distinguish you from the other thumbnails in the list.

5. Fill the Frame

If your thumbnail includes a person, make sure they’re framed close-up so they’re not too small. Even a mid-level shot might be difficult to see.

The Gist

Thumbnails ideally should be planned in the creative development process and considered during filming or animation, in case a specific image is required. It can sometimes be difficult to find a suitable frame in a finished video, especially when filming people speaking.

We’ve all had the experience of browsing videos, and we all know how important that thumbnail can be in the decision to click. If you’re already investing the time, energy, and money to make a video, putting the extra effort to create a winning thumbnail is a great way to get ensure success.

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