Video Thumbnails – The What, Why, and How?

create video thumbnail rizzle

Did you know that the first-ever usage of the word ‘thumbnail’ dates back to the 16th century? Well, sort of. The literal meaning of thumbnail – the ‘nail of the thumb’ – dates back to 1604. But what we are focusing on today, the adjective ‘thumbnail’ (concise, brief), was first used back in 1852. 

But what does a thumbnail mean in today’s day and age? Does it still hold the same meaning? Does a thumbnail in the digital era still mean concise/brief?

To find answers to these questions, let’s deep dive and look at what a thumbnail is, how beneficial it is, and how to create one, shall we?

So, what exactly is a thumbnail?

If you have browsed through apps like YouTube, Instagram, or Rizzle, you must have come across several videos. These videos have an image that acts as a preview before the video starts, right? This image is nothing but a thumbnail. 

A thumbnail is the first thing a viewer notices. In other words, a thumbnail is what provides the first impression to a viewer. Depending on how good or bad it is, the viewer decides to either watch the video or scroll through. Technically speaking, a thumbnail is not a ‘concise’ version of a video. It is an image that provides the viewer with an idea of what to expect from the video.

What are the benefits of using a thumbnail?

In a world where attention span is declining by the day, thumbnails have the power to catch people’s curiosity. If done right, the thumbnails more or less act as a magnet that attracts people’s eyes. For example, let’s say you are browsing the internet and have come across a video with a thumbnail that has a person with a shocked face on it and a text that reads ‘Aliens are going to take over the planet.’ Your immediate reaction to that would be to click on it and find out more, right? Now, imagine the same scenario, where you come across the same video, but there is no thumbnail – or rather just a screengrab of the video. You would not necessarily click on it and find out more, would you? That, precisely, is the power of a thumbnail.

Apart from the obvious point stated above, thumbnails also help provide a gist of what to expect. Think of it as a teaser/a trailer of what’s about to come. As they are images that appear before the video starts, you can have a host of information. But be mindful while adding text to the thumbnails and try having as little text as possible because text-heavy images sometimes drive viewers away.

Video thumbnails also improve your conversion rates and visibility of your overall page. How do conversion rates work? If someone clicks on the video and watches it, right? How do we compel the viewer to click on the video? With a unique thumbnail. And that’s how, once again, we see how powerful a good thumbnail is. A page’s overall visibility can also increase if every video posted has a unique and attractive thumbnail.

How to create a thumbnail?

Any creator must always add a thumbnail to their video that is as creative as the video itself. There are a few ways you can make your thumbnail stand out from the rest. Keep it colorful.

Keep it colorful

The whole point of the thumbnail is to stand out from the rest. It makes no sense if you end up having a monochromatic color scheme going on in your thumbnail. Furthermore, a monochromatic color doesn’t grab someone’s attention as well as, let’s say, a bright red or a sunset orange.

Use expressions on the face

For example, have a close-up shot of your face in the thumbnail, and depending on the type of video you are making, you can either have a serious look, a comedic look, a shocked look, etc. Having a face that conveys an emotion helps in grabbing attention. You must have come across such thumbnails on apps like Rizzle and YouTube already. 

Keep the text clear and concise

Use a bolder style of font and make sure the message is clear. Having clear and easily readable text helps get more clicks. 

Consistency is key 

Having quirky thumbnails that grab attention once in a blue moon does not help the channel grow. The secret to churning out as much advantage out of thumbnails as possible is creating eye-catching thumbnails for every video. Another aspect where consistency is the key is while following a theme. The colors used, the type of text used, the messaging tonality, etc., are the theme of your page. Keep these aspects consistent throughout your journey of video creation.

While these are a few rules/suggestions that you can follow while creating your thumbnails, here’s a list of apps that you can use to create thumbnails.

Before we start listing the apps, if you have experience using Photoshop, you could use the suggestions listed above and start creating your thumbnails! 

In a case where you do not use Photoshop, fret not!

Here are a few apps that can help you design your thumbnails for YouTube, Instagram, or Rizzle! 


Canva is one app that can benefit the creators a lot if used properly. While it does not provide photo editing features, it has elements like text, images, stickers, and more which can be very helpful!

Ultimate Thumbnail Maker:

If we go by the name, this app is the ultimate thumbnail maker! But in all seriousness, it is one of the top-rated apps. This app provides many features, such as filters, fonts, backgrounds, logo creation, text rotation, and more!


What helps Pixlr stand out from the rest is the AI-powered tools for fast designing and editing. The app also hosts quite a few pre-made templates that you can use to design your thumbnails! Another bonus of Pixlr – it supports almost any type of image format PNG, JPEG, SVG, etc.

Adobe Spark Post:

This app is Adobe’s very own attempt at creating an app for thumbnails. They must’ve realized that not everyone uses Photoshop! The app has its very own inspiration gallery where creators can browse through different designs. Apart from the usual features, the premium version of this app also lets you save and apply your brand colors to pre-existing templates!

Now that we’ve covered most aspects of creating attractive thumbnails, go ahead, download the Rizzle App, and create a thumbnail or two! Think we missed out on something? Drop it down in the comments section below!

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1 Comment

  1. Leya

    Insight maxx!!

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