What’s the difference between IA and UX?

Understanding the difference between information architecture (IA) and user experience (UX) can be tricky. Let’s get to the bottom of it.

What is information architecture?

In a nutshell, IA is the organisation and labelling of information.

IAs you’ll be familiar with include a website’s navigation, books in a library, or the documents and folders you create on your personal computer.

When designing an IA we ask:

  • how can we separate information into sub-groups?
  • what should we call these sub-groups?

A good IA should be understandable, logical, and predictable. The consideration and synthesis of three main factors – context, content, and users – is what dictates the difference between a well-designed IA and a poorly-designed one.

3 circles overlapping each other, 1st circle has the word context, 2nd circle has the word content and 3rd has the word users on it

What about user experience?

UX, on the other hand, includes all aspects of an end-users’ interaction with a system. We need to examine not just the site, but the platform used to access it, the environment the user is in, and even the user themselves.

While the three factors of IA are a useful guide when designing or evaluating the UX of a system, there are seven key UX tenets that should be considered.

We need to ask is it:

  • useful?
  • usable?
  • desirable?
  • valuable?
  • findable?
  • accessible?
  • credible?

7 hexagons joined together, each hexagon has a different word on it. Words are useful, usable, desirable, valuable, findable, credible, accessible

The difference between IA and UX

IA and UX share many characteristics (a focus on users, context, and content), and you can use the UX tenants to evaluate an IA.

Despite this, they are not interchangeable concepts. A good IA can contribute to a good UX, but a good UX is made up of much more than just the IA.

Got a question about IA or UX, or both? Give us a shout! Breadcrumb Digital is a digital agency, based in Brisbane, that delivers beautiful and functional solutions.