Which is More Important: The Message or the User Experience?

Which is More Important: The Message or the User Experience?

When developing your web presence, it can seem difficult to know where to start. Is it better to focus on design first and mold your messaging to it? Or, do you prioritize content and develop the design around your verbal architecture? 

The short answer is, messaging and UX are not mutually exclusive. They’re inseparable. Messaging and the UX should tell the same story, so one can’t be more important than the other.

A Symbiotic Relationship

A website’s messaging and UX are storytelling tools. They’re in service of your company’s larger narrative, and they help customers imagine themselves using your services.

In this living, breathing story, your website casts customers as the hero. And what do heroes need to succeed? They need you — they just don’t know it yet. 

Through your website, you guide your customers towards the right solution.  

Like a story, the customer journey also has a beginning, a middle, and an end.

When they enter and explore your web presence, customers subconsciously seek answers to three foundational questions.

What is it?”

Users immediately want to know if they’re in the right place, and they’ll quickly scan your website to find out. 

For example, if they’re looking for small business loans, your messaging and UX need to clearly highlight that you provide that product. 

When websites deliver clear answers, customers will continue asking questions that naturally move them along the customer journey, including:

Why should I use it?”

Now that your client knows they’re in the right place, they’ll assess whether or not your solution can help, and why they should choose your services over the competition. 

If they don’t get an answer, a solution, or at least a beneficial piece of information here (and fast), they’ll return to their search results. 

If your messaging and UX successfully communicate your advantages, your customer will then start seeking answers to their closing question:

How do I use it?”

By this point, your website has intrigued the customer enough to wonder how they can use your services, if it’s easy and simple to get started, and what they cost to adopt.

Good news! You’ve reached the bottom of the funnel.

Because your messaging and UX are fully synced, you’ve created a great pathway for customers to become clients.

Examples of Integration 

A website’s messaging and user experience are heavily codependent, and can enrich your web traffic when crafted effectively. To tell a compelling story, you need both elements firing on all cylinders.

Here are a few of the many areas messaging and UX can overlap:

Top Navigation 

Where do new customers typically look on a website? They glance at the top navigation to get an overview of the company.

In this case, the top navigation is both messaging and UX. 

On one hand, it features carefully-selected words that point to the website’s individual pages. On the other hand, each tab is intricately designed to provide a seamless browsing experience. 

The words you choose and the design you pursue are equally important. You can’t have one without the other. 


Brand personality determines the tone and voice of your content. This is expressed through various means, including in your messaging, user experience, and visual design.

While it can be fun to experiment with brand personality, it shouldn’t distract customers from getting clear answers to their most pressing questions. There is a balance to strike between being novel and usable.

For example, if you crafted an edgy brand personality, you would likely want to pair it with a visual design that supports it. Conversely, you wouldn’t want your punchy language to be contradicted by static pictures of sunsets (unless heavy irony is your thing). You don’t want overly creative headlines to degrade your user experience and cause confusion. And, you don’t want a complex user interaction on a website to work against your message of product/service simplicity.

Your brand personality is part of the user experience as well.

Form (vs. Function) 

Forms are a great way to excite customers and collect their contact information.

While a form is a visual and interactive design, it’s also a piece of content. Therefore, the messaging in and around the form must be clear.

If the messaging doesn’t make sense, the form itself won’t be effective, and people won’t complete it, however alluring its design may be. 

Forms are also the peak of your customer’s journey. It’s the part where they exchange their contact info in the hopes of exploring a working relationship with you. 

Forms must therefore be placed in the right part of your website, not too early and not too late. They must be seen as a logical continuation of your website’s story, rather than a forced sale.

How to Start

What’s more important, the message or the UX?” 

The question itself is a false premise, because it implies that one area is more valuable than the other. It allows many web designers and marketers to overemphasize their specialty—at the expense of a website’s overall effectiveness. 

When you’re shopping for the right digital marketing team, explore their individual departments. Make sure they’re as committed to their messaging as they are to their UX design (and vice versa). 

If pictures are worth a thousand words, great websites can be worth a thousand clients. 

Because websites have the capacity to tell a compelling story, they can imprint your authentic message and compel customers to take action. 

Learn more about how CSTMR can help you: schedule a free consult with Rory.

Picture of Jack Macy
Jack Macy
Jack Macy is one of the co-founders of CSTMR. His background and experience span branding, marketing strategy, design, UX, and technical development across financial services, technology, healthcare, and nonprofits.

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