Software Design vs. Software Architecture


Could someone explain the difference between Software Design and Software Architecture?

More specifically; if you tell someone to present you the 'design' – what would you expect them to present? Same goes for 'architecture'.

My current understanding is:

  • Design: UML diagram/flow chart/simple wireframes (for UI) for a specific module/part of the system
  • Architecture: component diagram (showing how the different modules of the system communicates with each other and other systems), what language is to be used, patterns…?

Correct me if I'm wrong. I have referred Wikipedia has articles on and, but I'm not sure if I have understood them correctly.

Best Solution

You're right yes. The architecture of a system is its 'skeleton'. It's the highest level of abstraction of a system. What kind of data storage is present, how do modules interact with each other, what recovery systems are in place. Just like design patterns, there are architectural patterns: MVC, 3-tier layered design, etc.

Software design is about designing the individual modules / components. What are the responsibilities, functions, of module x? Of class Y? What can it do, and what not? What design patterns can be used?

So in short, Software architecture is more about the design of the entire system, while software design emphasizes on module / component / class level.

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