Software Architecture: 5 Key Principles You Should Know

Software architecture lays the foundation of software development success. Defining the software’s design, delivery, technical, and support standards ensures successful implementation.  

When designing software architecture, businesses must keep the development and technology goals in mind and view the architecture from different standpoints. It will ensure everything is logical, scalable, and cost-effective. 

These standpoints consist of principles, standards, patterns and anti-patterns, rules of thumb, and empirical practices essential for decision-making and evaluating a project’s success. In this blog, we’ll talk about five such fundamental software architecture principles:

1. SOLID Principles

Robert C. Martin introduced the SOLID software architecture principles in his research paper Design Principles and Design Patterns. With them, software design becomes understandable, scalability improves, and maintenance becomes easy. 

Following are the five underlying principles in SOLID:

  • Single Responsibility Principle (S): Every module or class should only be responsible for a single functionality. 
  • Open-Closed Principle (O): All the software entities should be open to enhancements and extensions without needing modification or altering. 
  • Liskov Substitution Principle (L): Each derived class is a replacement for its base class, i.e., the software program’s objects can be replaced by its subtypes without interfering with the code.
  • Interface Segregation Principle (I): Existing interfaces should not be augmented by adding new methods. Also, each interface should cater to a particular client, and each class must implement several interfaces.
  • Dependency Inversion Principle (D): High-level modules should never rely on low-level modules, and each module should be independent. Moreover, abstractions should not depend on details, but details should depend on abstractions. 
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The SOLID principles are essential for object-oriented design and architecture. You can build a scalable, adaptable, testable, and reusable software solution by combining these five principles.

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2. The Least Principles

The Least software architecture principles work on the minimalism philosophy. Following are the principles that come under this category:

A. The Principle of Least Astonishment

This principle states that software should not surprise users when they use it for the first time. The idea is to minimize the learning curve and ensure that users can at least use the software with their existing knowledge. You must immediately redesign any feature with a high level of unpredictability. 

B. The Principle of Least Effort

According to this principle, humans want to take an effortless path. To develop software faster without effort, you would like to follow the existing patterns or resist improvement. While it may be necessary, you should never take the easy route on the cost of quality. Always set expectations and ensure no quality compromises happen throughout the software lifecycle.

3. The Principles of Economics

The principles of economics emphasize the costs of making the most of an opportunity and the cost of delaying decisions. Following are the principles that fall under the principles of economics:

A. The Principle of Opportunity Cost

Opportunity cost is the price we pay while choosing to achieve specific goals in software development. The most economical choice is the one where the benefit is high, but the price you have to pay is less. The principle helps you decide whether you should create a tactical solution with a shorter time to market or an expensive strategic solution that can later minimize the cost. 

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Following are the things we must keep in mind during the principle of opportunity cost:

  • Do you have enough time for the analysis of the architectural design? Coming with multiple solutions is impossible if you don’t have enough time.
  • How would the proposed solution affect the system quality attributes in your organization?
  • What do other stakeholders have to say? How would you resolve the conflicts that may occur? 

B. The Cost of Delay Principle or the Last Responsible Moment

According to the cost of delay principle, you must delay a significant decision or action until necessary. The idea is to ensure developers have a broader perspective on making decisions and are not stuck on just one solution. While some claim that this principle can lead to risks, you can still follow it by demonstrating to stakeholders the advantages of delaying a decision and the benefits of another option through proof of concepts (PoCs).

4. Crosscutting Concerns

Crosscutting concerns in the application are the key design areas specific to one layer, and you must keep them in mind to ensure your software’s success. 

Here are the things you must keep in mind to deal with crosscutting concerns:

  • Instrumentation and Logging: Measure and record all business-critical and system-critical events that should be measured and sufficient details in the system. The idea is to recreate events without adding sensitive information.
  • Authentication: Make sure all the users authenticate themselves and pass these identities to a protected system. 
  • Authorization: Establish a division of authority within each layer of the software architecture and across trust boundaries.
  • Exception management: Use an exception handling system to catch exceptions at functional, physical, and logical boundaries and prevent users from seeing sensitive information.
  • Communication: Use proper protocols to prevent sensitive data from breaching. 
  • Caching: Use caching to improve the responsiveness and performance of your application. For this, you must know what to cache and where which will need the consideration of Web farm and application farm issues. 
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5. Don’t repeat yourself (DRY)

The Don’t Repeat Yourself (DRY) principle states that we should not specify a concept more than once in an application. It is because having the same code in different places makes maintainability difficult. Also, you’ll have to make changes at other places instead of one.

The best approach is to put logic into a coding construct. You can also use abstraction or data normalization to avoid redundancy. 


These five software architecture principles will help ensure your software project aligns with your overall goals and technology expertise. They will also offer you excellent guidance and a framework. You must know that you can’t always use these principles in their raw form. So, be familiar with the context you’re developing software before deciding which version of the principle you need to apply.