Difference between Information Architecture and Sitemap: Everything to Know!

Once you know what a user wants, you can update the content of an existing website and list it. The main activities to perform at this stage are content inventory and content audit. It handles the chaos, creating a clear structure for a website, an app, or a program.

You had countless ways of organizing your collection, and you probably chose the one that made the most sense to you. Visual or HTML sitemaps will be available for public inspection on the front end of the website. These sitemaps create regulated traffic yet are much simpler for the general public to understand. The user may feel IA instead of only being seen as an image.

How to Make a Sitemap Using IA

Displaying all of this in a sitemap can get rather confusing, which is why the IA is often represented as wireframes and user flows. In the TYPO3 CMS, the pagetree can be a representation of the sitemap. But the great thing about TYPO3 is that our clients can edit the page tree themselves. They are not dependent on us to create new pages, delete unnecessary ones or move pages around. Over time it will get deprecated and collect dust in a folder somewhere. Here, the users get to choose how they wish to view the information display on their screens.

Take part in one of our FREE live online UX design events with industry experts. It shows us which navigation elements are used and which are overlooked or avoided. The test is used to determine the strength of category names. In the end group names can be refined into a menu and sitemap.

Data models help visualize how that new data will work within the structure. Data modeling is usually the final step before prototypes go to stakeholders and engineers for development. This step outlines how the website will handle new information after the site goes live. To do this, you’ll use wireframes, data models, and prototypes. Make it easy for users to see where they are and to return to the homepage, no matter how many links they click on your site.


When staff can find content, they can reuse it or reference it. This reduces content re-creation effort, content bloat, and, ultimately, costs to maintain an information-rich site. Is there a way to create co-existing hierarchies structures? I love your product but struggling to find a way to use it for my project. I’ve got lots of overlapping information, so I need to show that the child pages can be accessed from different parent pages.

There are links, buttons, and other elements redirecting to the same information. This refers to giving labels to the individually identifiable categories, making it easy for the customers to understand what https://globalcloudteam.com/ they are looking at. Experience designers delve deeper and connect emotionally with the consumer. Fundamentally, UX designers create the frameworks to make things more profound on an emotional level.

Most apps from Pinterest to Goodreads have a similar structure. Since a website’s content structure depends on the specific needs of the user, no structure will look exactly the same. The IA of an ecommerce store can look completely different from a blog and still meet users’ needs. You might have a category for women’s apparel that only contains shirts and pants right now. But, over time you can add more sub-categories like dresses or shoes.

Dive into a product category to narrow it down to different topics for that product. Search terms such as “password” and use the filters to narrow down your results. Goodreads uses taxonomy and metadata to allow users to find books of interest.

Dictate a Clear Purpose with Information Architecture By Lindsay Fernandez – Hospitality Net

Dictate a Clear Purpose with Information Architecture By Lindsay Fernandez.

Posted: Wed, 16 Jul 2014 07:00:00 GMT [source]

When people don’t find information they look for on websites or apps quickly and effortlessly, they leave. Here’s where Information Architecture comes to the rescue. Let’s explore this concept in detail and investigate its business values. They defining information architecture offer mind mapping, business charts, and brainstorming support. With your purchase you also get free templates, clip arts, a useful presentation mode, and more. This approach gives us the least information, but it’s quicker and simpler.

Latest IA trends

Another challenge is that many people categorize based on personal habits or existing systems. This is a problem if those approaches don’t work well for the user. For example, online shopping carts often use the word “item” or “product.” If you’re in the United States, you probably use the word product more often. Information architecture and the user experience are closely connected, but they’re not the same thing. According to this IA, a user first sees instructions to help them understand and use the app.

  • Here, such methods as usability testing and first click testing are applied.
  • These are typically product categories, each with sub-categories, and possibly dynamic filtering to finish.
  • Identification and the definition of the site content and functionality.
  • 100% yes.100% yes.ComparisonInformation ArchitectureSitemapWho is this for?
  • The most challenging aspect of creating a new information architecture is almost always in constructing it hierarchically.

A common mistake is to just make IA, without resources, research, or other assets or work. That’s like telling an author to write a book without an outline, or a programmer to code an app without prototypes. Draw.io is a free online tool for creating flowcharts, diagrams, information architecture, and more.


A sitemap shows every way a user can navigate a website and displays the content arrangement. You can also use sitemaps to provide information about specific content on pages, including images, videos, and news. While acting as a blueprint for sites, a sitemap helps search engines crawl and index all pages and tell which page is the most important on a website.

Their price for a single user is pretty low and the enterprise prices are not bad at all. Good information architecture greatly impacts the user experience. The faster the users get to their final destination, even if that destination includes multiple options, the greater their satisfaction. Therefore, we should never forget that knowing the users and their information seeking behaviors is the key to success. Once we know our users’ needs we can we can prioritize which architectural components to build. Once you organize everything, it’s time to start thinking about your users and creating your sitemap.

information architecture vs sitemap

External links may not function and information on the site may be out of date. From this research, we create user personas, user journeys, and a findings report. Information architecture work can happen in small and large organisations as well as agencies. A business that sells an experience, typically with a local focus. With all the information our clients want to provide on their website, it can be difficult to prioritize what to show at what point. It’s easy to think that everything is equally important and should be displayed as prominently as possible.

Overall, focusing on content architecture will benefit any organization by increasing the content team’s agility and empowering them to rely less on developers to find and organize content. The practice can be applied to many areas in corporations and organisations. This article will mainly focus on information structures within websites and intranets for content-heavy websites. As a content professional, it’s important to understand the basics of information architecture and how it impacts content strategy and user experience. Some research may need to go into understanding what users do on your website before “converting” to a lead/sale. For most businesses there will be smaller steps on the way to converting that need to be right to build trust and sell the value that your website provides.

The Difference Between Information Architecture (IA) and Navigation

This “brain fog” often extended to simple and routine tasks due to increased cognitive load. People create mental models to understand and interact with the world. Each mental model is unique and changes constantly, as we collect more information. To better understand why information architecture is useful, it’s a good idea to start with how the human brain works.

information architecture vs sitemap

IA streamlines the process when it comes to your product upgrades or modifications, as it becomes simpler to fit in new capabilities and determine the schedule. Using four shapes, no color, and smartly-placed text snippets, every major interaction is understandable without prototypes, and more importantly, it can be understood by anyone working on it. In other words, the most important factors to building your IA are where individual components of the architecture are placed , and how they’re labeled and displayed.

Recommended Reading About Information Architecture

Josh is the founder of Technical Writer HQ and Squibler, a writing software. He had his first job in technical writing for a video editing software company in 2014. Since then, he has written several books on software documentation, personal branding, and computer hacking. All items should have a reference number as per the hierarchical manner of elements and a label, which is the page title. Check if the labels are meaningful and describe the section in a clear manner.

This step might include user interviews and creating buyer personas. You may choose to work with a professional information architect or tackle IA on your own. Design, development, and engineering teams often work together on the process. But even a small solo project can improve with an understanding of the basics. According to the principle of exemplars, you should provide examples of content for things that aren’t necessarily clear or intuitive upon reading.

Hierarchy design patterns

Choosing which content to highlight on a site or page is one way to provide an effective user experience for your target audience. On the homepage of GOV.UK you can see all the topics for which they have content. If you pick a topic, you can browse deeper into the visual hierarchy. They have both wayfinding pages on their site and content pages.They get people to browse for their Topic via the Topics taxonomy, make a choice, then show content. Users can also search and narrow search results via taxonomy. Many government websites are good examples of content-heavy sites.

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