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Community Thumbnail Analysis Information

Stanley Orchard

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Before you analyze and criticize someone elses thumbnail I think it is important to be aware of several key aspects of thumbnails, what is the most important aspects to discuss when reviewing a thumbnail and what the true goal of a review/thumbnail should be. This is important for not only the reviewer to understand as it helps them provide clear feedback, but for the creator to understand as it gives them a more solid foundation going in to the thumbnails they create.

Most Important Aspects of a Thumbnail
The things that creators find most confusing about creating thumbnails seems to come down to design elements. How is it that you can spend ten hours delicately designing the most gorgeous work of art to represent your video, only to have it fail miserably next to an autogenerated screengrab. And how do you predict and recreate results like that?

Thumbnails don't necessarily need to be about skills as a graphic designer. It's about capturing someones curiosity. All the graphic design skills in the world won't do this on their own. You need to step away from your pride as an Adobe afficionado and focus on what is happening behind the thumbnail. It isn't about text or flashy graphics. It's about captivation. Grab attention. Inspire curiosity. This can be done with a simple photo, and is the basis for the best thumbnails.
View: https://youtu.be/2MhYVAhH4YY


True Goal of a Review
When we take the time to give our feedback on a thumbnail it is important to understand two things:
1. This is someone's work of art (regardless of skill)
2. We have no idea how their audience will respond.
So when someone is asking for a review they are asking for input on the graphic design, the overall appearance and layout of the thumbnail, the visual appeal and at the end of the day how much curiosity it inspires. There are a number of common, generic responses to a thumbnail review, including quips about the size/shape/color/extensiveness of text. The creator should be mindful of this going in to the review, though as reviewers we also need to understand that every creator will likely need to hear this a few times.

True Goal of the Thumbnail
Click-Through Rate. Plain and simple. The goal of the thumbnail is to get as many clicks as possible. It is going to be put into search right next to the current line-up of videos on that topic and it will be expected to compete against them. It will be expected to standout and draw attention. As a reviewer we can not predict the CTR of someone elses channel. We can make suggestions based on platform averages and personal experiences and the things that we have been taught. But we have no idea what people YouTube is sharing these videos to, we know nothing about those who have subscribed to that channel and what demographics are best targeted for this channels videos. But we can provide insight and inspiration to someone on their journey. We can assist someone on the path to helping, educating or entertaining someone else. This is a powerful role, use it responsibly.
 

Beanie Draws

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The one thing that really annoys me about thumbnails these days is it’s all a guessing game. The best design practices and design theory means nothing when literally any kind of thumbnail with a red circle and red arrow could gain clicks.

I’ve seen “bad” thumbnails get upwards of 20% ctr, and really great thumbnails simply not convert meaning opinions are essentially useless and the only thing that matters is experimenting and trying differant approaches, then running tests to see if the ctr data reflects improvement or not.


so when folks ask for an opinion, opinions are basically meaningless. I could give you aesthetic opinions which could result in a NEGATIVE change, and depending on the target audience, they might hate what I suggest and think it’s ”‘cringey” meanwhile the thumbnails I absolutely hate turn out to be high performers.

opinions and reviews should really only act as a base for an idea to TRY, a/b test and see if the opinions and suggestions ACTUALLY result in improvements or not.