The difference between information architecture (IA), sitemap, and navigation

People often confuse these three concepts and use them inadvertently for the same aspects of a website-related project.

In short: The information architecture (IA) defines the overarching structure and relationship between all areas of a site (or multiple sites) and informs the sitemap; the sitemap lists all the (labelled) pages in entirety and shows hierarchy, structure and often page goals and content/functionality that happens to be on that particular page; and finally, the navigation guides users via links to all areas of a website.

An information architecture is usually done at the initial phases of a project. Main goal is to organise and structure all relevant entities — preferably in a user-centric way.

People often confuse these three concepts and use them inadvertently for the same aspects of a website-related project.

In short: The information architecture (IA) defines the overarching structure and relationship between all areas of a site (or multiple sites) and informs the sitemap; the sitemap lists all the (labelled) pages in entirety and shows hierarchy, structure and often page goals and content/functionality that happens to be on that particular page; and finally, the navigation guides users via links to all areas of a website.

An information architecture is usually done at the initial phases of a project. Main goal is to organise and structure all relevant entities — preferably in a user-centric way.

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