Article last updated on:
February 10, 2024

You’re here because you:

  • Want to create a YouTube Thumbnail
  • And you want to get more clicks (and engagement)
  • But you don’t know where to start

This guide gives you the recipe.

Listed: 7 Greatest Types of YouTube Thumbnails

Currently, these are the 7 hottest types of YouTube thumbnails: One-Question, Facts & Stats, Before-After, Versus, Quotes, Mystery, Product Showcase.

1. One-Question

Carwow's Example of the one-question format for YouTube Thumbnails

How to do it:

  • Focus on a single, intriguing question directly related to your video’s topic. (e.g., “Will This Plant Make You Look Younger?”)
  • Use clear, concise language. Avoid jargon or overly technical terms.
  • Keep it short and sweet. Aim for maximum impact in minimal space.
  • Design with contrasting colors and bold fonts for readability.
  • Consider adding an image or icon to visually represent the question.

Pros:

  • Highly engaging: Triggers curiosity and compels viewers to click.
  • Simple and versatile: Works across various content types.
  • SEO-friendly: Keywords in the question can improve search ranking.
  • Clear value proposition: Quickly conveys the video’s main benefit.

Cons:

  • Risk of ambiguity: Ensure the question clearly reflects the video’s content.
  • Limited information: Doesn’t explain details or showcase expertise.
  • Overused tactic: Can stand out less if done generically.

Example of someone who does it best:

  • BuzzFeedVideo: Masters the art of click-worthy, one-question thumbnails across diverse topics.

2. Facts & Stats

Facts & Stats YouTube Thumbnail Style - Example from Vox

How to do it:

  • Highlight a surprising or impressive fact/statistic related to your video’s content. (e.g., “10x MORE Money Saving Hacks You Didn’t Know!”)
  • Use large, bold numbers and clear visuals to grab attention.
  • Keep it relevant and accurate: Don’t mislead viewers with exaggerated claims.
  • Tailor to your niche: Emphasize facts that resonate with your target audience.
  • Consider adding a brief explanation or context to pique curiosity.

Pros:

  • Credibility and expertise: Showcases knowledge and research behind your video.
  • Appeals to data-driven viewers: Enticing for those who love facts and figures.
  • Intriguing and informative: Offers a glimpse into the video’s value.
  • Can work well in specific niches: Effective for science, history, finance, etc.

Cons:

  • Limited emotional appeal: May not resonate with viewers seeking entertainment.
  • Risk of information overload: Too many numbers can overwhelm viewers.
  • Requires accurate data: Ensure facts are verifiable and trustworthy.

Example of someone who does it best:

  • Veritasium: Uses compelling facts and visuals to explain complex scientific concepts in engaging ways.
  • Vox: Example shown in the image above.

3. Before-After

Before and After Thumbnail - Example from Mrwhosetheboss

How to do it:

  • Showcase a clear transformation or improvement related to your video’s content. (e.g., “From Messy Room to Dream Studio in 24 Hours!”)
  • Use a split image highlighting the “before” and “after” states.
  • Emphasize the contrast visually: Use different colors, lighting, or text.
  • Keep it simple and visually appealing: Don’t clutter the image with text.
  • Consider adding an arrow or text highlighting the change.

Pros:

  • Powerful visual representation of results: Shows the value and impact of your video.
  • Highly engaging: Creates curiosity about the transformation process.
  • Appeals to viewers seeking improvement: Resonates with those wanting solutions.
  • Versatile across various content types: From DIY projects to personal growth.

Cons:

  • Limited information: Doesn’t explain the “how” or specific details.
  • Requires high-quality visuals: Both “before” and “after” images need to be attractive.
  • Overused tactic: Can appear generic if not done creatively.

Example of someone who does it best:

  • MrBeast: Masterfully uses impressive “before” and “after” transformations in challenges and giveaways, captivating viewers.

4. Versus (VS)

MrBeast's Example of a "Versus" YouTube Thumbnail

How to do it:

  • Feature two contrasting items or options directly related to your video’s content. (e.g., “iPhone 14 vs. Samsung Galaxy S23: Ultimate Showdown!”)
  • Use high-quality visuals showcasing both items clearly.
  • Emphasize the “versus” element with bold text, arrows, or icons.
  • Keep it concise and focused: Don’t overwhelm with too much information.
  • Consider adding a question to spark curiosity and debate.

Pros:

  • Highly engaging: Creates a sense of competition and encourages viewers to pick a side.
  • Appeals to viewers seeking comparisons: Useful for decision-making, product reviews, etc.
  • Offers diverse content possibilities: From tech gadgets to cooking recipes.
  • Can drive engagement through comments and discussions.

Cons:

  • Risk of bias: Ensure a fair and balanced presentation of both sides.
  • Limited information: Doesn’t delve deep into specific features or comparisons.
  • Overused tactic: Requires creativity to stand out from the crowd.

Example of someone who does it best:

  • Techquickie: Masterfully compares tech products with humorous and informative “versus” battles, engaging viewers to learn and choose.

5. Quotes

Example of a YouTube Thumbnail with a quote

How to do it:

  • Choose a captivating quote directly related to your video’s topic and key message. (e.g., “The key to success is not fear, but curiosity!” – Albert Einstein)
  • Use bold, clear fonts and contrasting colors for readability.
  • Feature the quote prominently, possibly with an image or background relevant to the topic.
  • Consider adding the speaker’s name or title for credibility and context.
  • Ensure the quote accurately reflects the video’s content and avoids misleading viewers.

Pros:

  • Intriguing and thought-provoking: Sparks curiosity and invites viewers to learn more.
  • Highlights expertise and credibility: Showcases valuable insights or knowledge.
  • Appeals to viewers seeking inspiration or wisdom: Resonates with those seeking deeper meaning.
  • Versatile across various content types: From motivational speeches to educational topics.

Cons:

  • Limited information: Doesn’t explain the context or details of the quote.
  • Risk of generic feel: Requires careful selection and design to stand out.
  • Overused tactic: Can appear unoriginal if not done creatively.

Example of someone who does it best:

  • TEDTalks: Masterfully uses powerful quotes from renowned speakers to pique curiosity and encourage viewers to watch the full presentations.

6. Element of Surprise

Example of a misterious YouTube Thumbnail from ChrisFix

How to do it:

  • Feature a central image clearly related to your video’s content, but blur the key element or subject. (e.g., a blurred ghost in a haunted house image)
  • Use strategic blurring to pique curiosity without revealing too much.
  • Emphasize the mystery with bold text like “You Won’t Believe Who This Is!” or “What’s Hiding in Plain Sight?”
  • Keep the overall design eye-catching and intriguing with contrasting colors and fonts.
  • Consider adding a question mark or other suspenseful elements to heighten anticipation.

Pros:

  • Highly engaging: Generates curiosity and compels viewers to click to unravel the mystery.
  • Builds anticipation: Raises excitement and sets expectations for the video’s reveal.
  • Effective for various content types: From true crime stories to product reveals.
  • Can appeal to viewers who enjoy surprises and unexpected twists.

Cons:

  • Risk of clickbait: Ensure the blurred element truly relates to the video’s content.
  • Limited information: Doesn’t provide much context or details about the subject.
  • Overused tactic: Requires creativity and execution to stand out from similar thumbnails.

Example of someone who does it best:

  • ChrisFix: Master of the art of mystery thumbnails with blurred cars, effectively piquing viewers’ curiosity and driving clicks.

Additional Tips:

  • Experiment with different levels of blur to create varying degrees of intrigue.
  • Use text clues or hints within the design to subtly suggest the hidden element.
  • Ensure the blurred image is still visually appealing and relevant to the video content.
  • Avoid overly exaggerated or misleading descriptions to maintain viewer trust.

7. Product Showcase

Example of a YouTube Thumbnail showing an iPhone 15

How to do it:

  • Feature a high-quality image of the product prominently displayed. Ensure it’s well-lit and captured from an attractive angle.
  • Consider adding lifestyle elements to showcase the product in use. This helps viewers visualize how it fits into their lives.
  • Emphasize key features and benefits with text overlays or callouts. Don’t overload the image, keep it concise and clear.
  • Use contrasting colors and clear fonts for readability, especially on text overlays.
  • Consider adding a price tag or special offer to incentivize clicks.

Pros:

  • Visually appealing and informative: Draws attention and showcases the product’s aesthetics.
  • Straightforward approach: Clearly communicates the video’s content and purpose.
  • Versatile across various product types: From tech gadgets to clothing and makeup.
  • Can be easily adapted to highlight specific features or promotions.

Cons:

  • Risk of generic feel: Requires creative elements to stand out from competitors.
  • Limited information: Doesn’t delve deep into details or functionalities.
  • Overused tactic: Needs unique presentation to avoid blending in with similar thumbnails.

Example of someone who does it best:

  • Unbox Therapy: Masterfully showcases tech products with high-quality visuals, engaging commentary, and clear callouts, sparking viewers’ interest and purchase intent.

Get your thumbnail right

We get it — this may seem overwhelming.

Creating the best thumbnail is no easy, and it’s even harder when you:

  • Create 2, 3, 4, or 5 thumbnails for one video…
  • And you think they’re all great.
  • But you don’t know which one to pick.

Let us introduce you to: Thumbnail Test.

ThumbnailTest.com - Website Home Page

With this app, you can A/B Test multiple thumbnails at once.

So, for one video:

  1. You upload a couple of thumbnails
  2. The software sends each thumbnail to a select group of your audience
  3. Conducts research → checks how well each thumbnail performs
  4. At the end: The thumbnail performing best remains set for your video

It’s a simple automation you can do even for your older videos to get more views, subscribers, comments, likes, and other forms of engagement…

In just a few minutes.

You don’t have to do anything but upload your images!

Conclusion

This list just took you through the 7 best types of thumbnails.

No BS, just straight-forward information — something we would’ve liked to read when searching how to design a great thumbnail back in the day.


Thank you for reading this,
ThumbnailTest

About the author

David is the head of the editing team at ThumbnailTest. With his help, the editorial team is able to provide you with the best free guides related to YouTube thumbnails and A/B testing.