The banner is the top part of your channel, meaning it catches your watchers attention right away. It’s like your Instagram bio or any other intro – you want it to instantly display an image of who you are and what your channel is all about. Here are two examples of it:
Image & file size
Okay, this seems like a really boring one to start with, but I’ll tell you why. YouTube is one of few channels that you’re likely to view using many different devices – mobile, tablet, desktop and even TV. That makes the image size really important, since you want your channel to look good wherever it’s viewed.
YouTube recommends uploading a 2560 x 1440 px image for the best result on all devices. The file of the size itself should be 6MB or smaller.
Follow this advice! You don’t want to work on a cool banner for hours and hours, only to realize it doesn’t look good when watching your channel on a TV.
Just because of the various different formats required for different devices, sizing can be a bit tricky. However, YouTube has been generous enough to provide us with a Channel Art Template. This works as a guide for how your image will be viewed on different devices. They provide you with both a png and psd version, and you can download it here.
Social media links
Once you’ve got an audience on YouTube, you want them to be able to find you on other platforms, as well. This can easily be done by adding social media links to your banner. You can add a maximum of 5 links – but that may not be needed – just choose the most relevant ones. Website, Instagram and Facebook might be just enough for you.
Here’s how Google explain the 5 steps required to add social media links to your banner:
- On a computer, go to your channel and click the About tab. If you’re in the new YouTube layout, click Customize channel.
- Hover over the “Links” section, then click edit.
- Click the +Add button.
- Enter the title and URL of the site you want to link to. You can add up to five links.
- Click Done.
2. Channel trailer
Okay, this is truuuuly your Instagram bio, but so much better. This is a chance of you presenting yourself to all unsubscribed visitors to your channel. Think of it as a movie trailer – keep it short, interesting and hook your viewers. YouTube set this up in a very neat way, since this is only shown to unsubscribed viewers. If they are already subscribers, they’ll see one of your regular videos here, instead. That means, your channel trailer should also assume the viewer knows nothing of you.
Here’s how to set up a channel trailer in 7 easy steps, as presented by Google:
- Upload the video you want to be your channel trailer.
- Go to the channel you want to manage.
- Select Customize channel.
- Go to the “Home” tab.
- Click the “For new visitors” tab.
- Click Edit.
- Select Change trailer or Remove trailer.
Once your banner and channel intro are all done, you want to move on to your videos. Since “suggested videos” is usually an important source of getting views, you want to make sure the first impression of your video is really great. This can be done by customizing the image shown to represent your video – also called a thumbnail.
Aaaand we’re back to image size again! This is much shorter though, promise. Your thumbnails should be 1280 x 720 px, with a maximum file size of 2MB.
Thumbnails can be uploaded while you upload a new video, but you can also change them during time. If you don’t pick a thumbnail, YouTube will generate one for you. Noooot the best option. Luckily, you can change your thumbnails after a video is published, too. This means you can go back to your old videos and give them a brand new look.
Use the thumbnail to represent the video in a fun and interesting way, that lets your audience know more about what they can expect from the video. Depending on what type of channel you have, the visuals aspects will vary widely. However, it’s nice to create some type of overall vision, that makes your videos look good side by side. Think of Instagram – you want that feed to be cohesive. Here are a two examples of channels that have done this successfully:
4. Channel icon
Your channel icon is the little icon displayed next to your name. It could also be called your profile picture! By default, it’s the image that’s associated with your Google Account, but this can be modified. For your channel icon, an 800 x 800 px image is recommended. If it’s a company channel, you’ll most likely have an image featuring your logo. For a personal account, an image of you seems more fitting.
Using Google’s words, this is how you change your channel icon on your YouTube channel:
- Sign in to YouTube.
- Under your profile at the top right, select Your Channel.
- Select Customize Channel.
- Hover over your existing channel icon in the top left of your channel art banner.
- Click edit.
- Click Edit and follow the on-screen instructions.
This might not give the greatest visual effect, but a small one. What it will improve significantly though, is the experience for your audience. If you have a lot of videos, how will they find the specific one they’re looking for? Just as with the thumbnail, you can add a video to a certain playlist when you upload it, but you can also add already published videos to your newly created playlists.
Depending on your channel, how you want to sort your videos will differ. Here are two sources of inspiration:
Good luck with your channel! At least now you can let it be judged by its cover.