Designing YouTube channel art is a tricky endeavour for a non-designer. And it’s not just the usual struggles of the uninitiated regarding the amount of white space one should leave between individual design elements or the best font combination. The tricky part is taking into consideration that the image you need to upload is way taller than what is seen in a typical preview mode on YouTube. Case in point, here’s what your average header looks like in a YouTube profile:
Image from YouTube
But the recommended size for your uploaded image is 2560 by 1440 pixels. Here’s a Crello YouTube channel art template with the respective ratio:
While that seems pretty puzzling, the reason for the YouTube channel art size requirement is the need to display channel art on the different devices – PCs and mobile devices, as well as TVs.
By default, YouTube crops your uploaded image to fit the middle part into your mobile and desktop preview. You do have the option to adjust the cropping a little bit, but if your design is too crowded and there are no central elements to focus on the option is not going to help much:
Image from YouTube
To help you navigate channel art design, we’ve compiled a few useful design tips that can help you figure out the best way to make a channel art image for your page! Let’s dive in.
Design Tip #1
Ever heard of ‘less is more’? Well, for reasons outlined above, way, way less is more when it comes to your YouTube channel art. You need to condense your key message and logo to the narrow strip somewhere in the middle of your design and make the rest of your design fade out into the background, which it, essentially, is.
Design Tip #2
Limit the text on your art by a maximum of two or three worlds. More text might look good when only the safe middle area is displayed, but on larger screens a dense chunk of text right in the middle of your channel art will start to look weird.
Design Tip #3
Don’t include any contact information, and if you absolutely must, only include one channel of communication that your CTA currently directs to. Fill in the About page for your channel and do what many creators on YouTube are doing right now – put all the relevant product, company and persona links/contact info in your video descriptions.
Design Tip #4
I started writing up this tip focusing on the typical advice to use brand colors when creating marketing materials for social media. But actually you need to think bigger than that – consider how your design (text and visuals both regarding their color scheme, style and mood) goes with your logo, your brand voice and general visual vibe.
Design Tip #5
When creating your channel art, consider that the image will not be a single design all on its own, but a part of a page on an external platform. Think whether other design elements that your YouTube page contains – your profile picture, your video thumbnails, and the YouTube interface itself – would go well together with your design.
One way to do this is incorporate elements also present in other parts of the page, which will bring the whole look together.
Design Tip #6
Since your image is going to be cropped in many ways, get ahead of the curve and chop the design yourself – try incorporating the recent trend toward deconstructivism into your visual. That way, the broken look of your image when cropped at awkward points will still feel intentional.
Design Tip #7
If you include a shape to decorate your design, create balance or establish visual hierarchy, make sure it goes all the way through your image, and not just within the central strip of your visual to avoid a cutoff look when your image is displayed in full size.
It might seem overwhelming at first, but creating channel art graphics is very similar to designing a simple Facebook post or an Instagram update. The key rules of not overcrowding your image, including only one message and aligning it with the design and style of both your brand and the platform you are posting to still apply.
Even if you’ll have a few botched attempts under your belt, eventually, you’ll pick the right template, background and message that will work perfectly with your YouTube channel.
Find more channel art templates in our previous posts here and here. Need more design tips before you get started? Here’s our post about YouTube banner design that features a bunch of useful examples from brands.