Blog by Thumblytics

How to Make More Clickable YouTube Thumbnails: The Human Element

May 13, 2020

The human element is extremely powerful in driving clicks on YouTube thumbnails, and we've consistently seen this across the thumbnail tests we've run (and trust us, we've run a LOT of tests). Humans have evolved to detect eye contact, making thumbnails with eye contact more eye-catching. In addition to this, humans communicate in large part by reading emotional cues on the face.

Before we dive into the content, we need you to promise us something. You must follow along and actually do each of these exercises, manually. If you just read over the steps, you might as well not even do them. The point of these exercises is to train your hands, your brain, and your mind in how to think, create, and tweak thumbnails. If you just read without applying the concepts, you are cheating yourself out of the effectiveness of the lessons.

A common mistake we see among YouTubers is that they don't want to reveal their face and so they give up on the idea of including themselves in their thumbnails. What most people don't realise is that even showing a hand in a thumbnail can be powerful in boosting CTR (e.g. if you're making a video about the new iPhone, your thumbnail could be improved if it included a shot of the device in your hand).

From our tests, we've found that the human element can be implemented in different ways with some more effective than others:

  • Face
  • Full Body
  • Part of a body (e.g. hand or arm)

Now let's apply what we've just learnt by making a thumbnail. But before we can make a thumbnail we need a video topic. We recommend using the topic of your upcoming video but it's completely up to you. Our video topic will be "How to make the perfect cup of coffee".

Tool of the Day: Today we will be using Canva - A free and easy-to-use tool that helps you design consistently stunning graphics. The concepts that drive clicks on your thumbnail can be used no matter what design tool you are using, but Canva is a great way to get started with making custom thumbnails if you haven't made one before!

Step 1: Register on Canva by clicking here. Once you have signed up, you should see something like this. Note the range of templates available on the left-hand side.


Step 2: Take (or find) a picture that incorporates a person (we recommend that you take one of yourself). The great thing about Canva is that they already have a LOT of templates that have the human element in them! We were just about to go take a picture of a cup of coffee in our hand, when we found this template. It's like Canva knew we were coming!


If you weren't able to find a suitable template with a human element, or just want to use your own images, you can click the "Uploads" button on the left-hand side of the screen.


Step 3: The beauty of Canva is the HUGE range of templates they have available. Because we were able to find such a great template, we only had to make a few small tweaks before we were happy! The first tweak we made was to the thumbnail's saturation. We pressed the adjust button and turned up the saturation. Over-saturation is generally quite effective in boosting CTR.


We changed the text to be more attention-grabbing and to better capture our video content. While we thought the sizing of the text was good, we wanted a more casual vibe. We tried a few different fonts and settled on "Gagalin". Keeping with the casual vibe, we also decided to rotate the text to align with the hand.


Step 4: Download your creation by clicking the download button at the top-right corner of your screen. You have just applied The Human Element in your thumbnail design! That wasn't too hard was it?


And that's it! Proud of what you've created? Share it with the world! Tweet your thumbnail with the hashtag #Thumblytics we'd love to see it.


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