YouTube Thumbnail Elements: What To Include (2024)

Article last updated on:
April 18, 2024

Not sure what to add in your thumbnails? We’ll help you decide — this guide tells you the 6 most crucial things to have in your images.

In a nutshell, these are your must-have elements in the thumbnail’s layout:

5 Must-Have Elements in YouTube Thumbnails

A well-made YouTube thumbnail requires these elements: simple background, face, text, logo, and an intriguing or mysterious subject.

1. Background

Your background should visually represent the video’s theme.

Facts & Stats YouTube Thumbnail Style - Example from Vox
  • Filming a spooky abandoned house? Use a shadowy hallway as the backdrop.
  • Exploring a new recipe? Let a vibrant kitchen scene entice viewers.
  • You get the idea.

2. Face

Faces are naturally magnetic. Adding a face to your thumbnail is great!

Example of a YouTube Thumbnail with a Popular Face

Including a well-lit, expressive face (yours or someone else’s relevant to the video) adds personality and fosters a connection with viewers.

Relevant: Why do YouTubers make weird faces?

3. Text

Keep it short and sweet! Yes, text is essential in thumbnails.

YouTube Thumbnail Idea - Make it personal

Use keywords that accurately reflect your video’s content. Make sure the text is large enough to read on a small thumbnail and choose a contrasting color for maximum readability.

Relevant: Best fonts for thumbnails.

4. Logo

Even if your channel is small, this is about brand recognition in the future.

Apple's Logo in the thumbnail of a YouTube introducing the Apple Vision Pro

Subtly add your channel logo to establish brand identity and make your videos instantly recognizable in search results.

5. The Mystery

YouTube Thumbnail idea - One that provokes FOMO

A good thumbnail leaves viewers wanting more. Some ways to inject mystery:

  • Question: Pose a thought-provoking question related to your video’s topic.
  • Teaser: Show a glimpse of something intriguing from the video, but not enough to reveal the whole story.
  • Blur Effect: Strategically blur parts of the image to create a sense of suspense and invite viewers to click and discover the truth.

Bonus Tip: A/B Testing

A/B testing is a powerful tool for YouTubers to optimize their thumbnails and maximize clicks.

Thumbnail Test Homepage

It involves showing different thumbnail variations to random groups of viewers and analyzing which one performs better.

Thank you for reading this,

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.