The Role of a Data/Information Architect

What’s the difference between a data architect and an information architect? Data architects and information architects fulfill related but very different roles. To make it even more confusing, the terms data architecture and information architecture can be used interchangeably by those within the industry. But there are very real distinctions that need to be made, especially if you are hiring for data-related positions.

The Role of a Data Architect

Data architects are primarily focused on designing databases. As an architect, they generally have many years of experience in working with database and data structures, and will have a solid foundation of knowledge regarding data theory. They are concerned primarily with structuring the data properly to fulfill the end goals of the applications and its usage, and will be concerned with technical aspects such as optimization and accuracy. A data architect is an individual who is going to be primarily concerned with the performance of the application and the theory behind the architecture of the data. They will focus on creating the database design that most suits the application that is being developed. For high performance applications, a data architect will be essential.

The Role of an Information Architect

On the other end of the spectrum, information architects primarily concern themselves with user intent and the user experience as related to data. They can be compared to the difference between a UX designer and a back-end developer. In addition to considering the data elements and database structure themselves, information architects have to consider how this data is going to be accessed and used. Essentially, they are considering the human element related to the database, in a way that makes it easier for users to interact with that database. Information architects and data architects complete two sides to the same whole, as one is primarily focused on the back end while the other is more focused on the end user.

Data Architects vs. Information Architects

At its core, the difference between a data architect and an information architect comes down to the implications of the words “data” and “information.” When it comes to data science, the focus is primarily on the technology, theory, and workings of the database structure. When it comes to information science, the focus is more on the user’s intent and the user experience; what is being done with the data. When developing a user experience, an information architect is needed. When developing the optimization of a system, a data architect is needed.

Though the role of a data architect and an information architect may appear to be similar on the surface, they are clearly very disparate when it comes to the work that has to be done. For comprehensive applications, it will often be beneficial to have both a data architect and an information architect, working in tandem… or an individual who can fill both roles. But whether you need a data architect or an information architect, our job listings may be able to help you.

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