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System Design Strategies and Important In Software Development

Kushleen Waraich
Last Updated: Aug 16, 2022
System Design Strategies and Important In Software Development


System design is important for defining the product and its architecture. It is necessary for the interfaces, design, data, and modules to satisfy the system requirements. Thus, a good system design strategy is key for enabling optimal product development.

Good design strategies and techniques offer the necessary roadmap to dealing with the complexity and scalability of programs. And, system design strategists and veteran software developers are entrusted with the job of designing this roadmap with adequate instruction. 

A good system design strategy requires foresight and a deeper understanding of not only the current/active requirements of the software product but also the future ones.

System design is an important job role and it is always beneficial for budding software engineers to start getting acquainted with it. Job interviews that are associated with better positions or managerial roles always place a heavy focus on system design. Thus, it is never too early to start learning good system design strategies and applying them to your projects.

Also, a good system design online course is highly recommended before attending interviews for senior software engineer roles.

What is a Good System Design Strategy?

In software engineering, a system design strategy generally refers to using system design methodologies for conceptualizing software requirements. A good system design strategy identifies these requirements as challenges and provides the most optimal solutions. Then, the strategy incorporates the best approach to implement the solutions. The best system design strategies always allow easy manipulation and development of products.

Good system design strategies take every factor such as product design, software interface, core architecture, data, and even the modules into account in order to execute the most effective product development strategy. These design modules instruct programmers how to effectively write code for each subsystem and compile them together for the entire system. 

Also, these strategies are especially helpful when tackling pre-existing code that must be organized, understood, and integrated. The main challenge for system design specialists is working on pre-existing programs, due to the requirement of complying with the logic of the system, thus making it a challenge during instances requiring scalability. 

There are three approaches to implementing system design. And, they are:

Structured Design Approach

Structured design fundamentally refers to breaking down problems into multiple well-organized elements. The advantage of using this kind of design strategy is that it allows the problems to become simpler. This enables problem-solving of the smaller elements so that they can fit into the bigger picture. The solution modules are structured in a hierarchical order and a manner that there is less cohesion between the modules.

Function-oriented Design Approach

The function-oriented design strategy is similar to structured design but instead divides the entire system into subsystems referred to as functions. The system is considered to be a map or top-view of all the combined functions. However, there is more information passing between the functions as compared to structured design while the smaller functions promote abstraction. The function-oriented design also allows the program to operate on input rather than on state. 

Object-oriented Design Approach

This design approach is completely different from the other two and focuses on objects and classes. This kind of strategy revolves around the objects inside the system and their characteristics. Further, the characteristics of the attributes of all these objects are encapsulated together and then the data involved is restricted so that polymorphism can be enabled. The object-oriented design is based on identifying objects and grouping them into classes based on their attributes. Then, the class hierarchy is determined and the relationship between these classes is defined. 

What are the Two Strategies for Software Design?

The most appropriate design strategy is always dependent on the system requirement. Good system strategies are different for pre-existing systems or building new systems from scratch. There are two main strategies for system design that are used other than the hybrid strategy, which fundamentally combines the two strategies together. Let’s check what these two system design strategies are. 

Bottom-up Strategy

This kind of system design strategy revolves around designing the subsystems and the lowest-level components (even sub-components) first. By designing these components first, the higher-level subsystems and larger components can then be built easily and more efficiently. This allows less time to be wasted in conducting recon and troubleshooting. The entire process of building the lower-level components into larger sets is continued till the entire system is one single component. This design strategy also facilitates the reusability of generic solutions and low-level implementations. 

This kind of strategy is great when you expect the level of abstraction to be quite high. However, the high-quality solutions are difficult to construct using this strategy as it is not incorporated with the structure of the problems. There is also the chance of using unnecessary functions that are the most effective ones due to the high level of abstraction.

Top-down Strategy

This design strategy is completely focused on dividing the system into subsystems and components first. Instead of building from the bottom up, like in the bottom-down strategy, the top-down version conceptualizes the whole system first and then breaks it down into several subsystems. Then, these subsystems are designed and divided into smaller subsystems and sets of components that meet the requirements of the larger system. Instead of identifying these subsystems as separate entities, the whole system is considered to be a single entity in this approach. 

The subsystems are then considered to be separate entities when the system is finally conceptualized and split according to its characteristics. The components are all then laid out in a hierarchical structure till the lowest level of the system is designed.

This approach does not promote abstraction and is clearly defined. The top-down strategy is generally of very high quality as the design process keeps defining the subsystems and components as they suit the system, thus proving highly efficient, responsive, and effective in all regards. However, the solutions are not generic in nature and cannot be generally reused. Also, these systems do not have simple architectures and are harder to maintain. 

Hybrid design strategies, however, take all the high-quality aspects of the top-down method and incorporate reusability and well-organized structures from the bottom-up strategy. Thus, they are the most effective system design strategy for most systems.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I prepare for system design interview rounds?

You can prepare yourself by working with high-level components and then getting accustomed to more detailed work with low-level components. It is recommended you get comfortable with identifying these components and their attributes to solve the complete problem or for implementing the system. You can also prepare by practicing the methodologies suggested by the Grokking design interview course.

Is system design hard?

System design is not necessarily hard, however, it requires the ability to solve complex problems and fit things together into the larger picture. Courses such as Grokking the system design course allows candidates to understand system design in a much simpler manner.

What do you look for in a system design interview?

These interviews are fundamentally focused on trying to ascertain the experience and abilities one has in designing complex systems. Grokking system design courses teach candidates about what they should look for in system design interviews and also what employers are looking for in candidates.

Is system design interview hard?

No, these interviews are not as hard as they are holistic. These interviews mainly expect the candidates to focus on various aspects of the system design that vary in terms of complexity.

How long is a system design interview?

Most system design interviews go on for about 45 minutes, however, many companies conduct them for even longer.

How do you ace a system design interview?

You can ace a system design interview by searching for the best course for system design and getting trained in system design. The best courses such as Grokking the system design interview course will definitely help.

How many approaches are there for system design?

There are three approaches to system design. And, they include structured design, function-oriented design, and object-oriented design.

What is the best system design strategy?

The best system design strategy is the hybrid system design strategy. It incorporates the good things from both top-down and bottom-up strategies to remove the shortcomings that both these approaches face.


System design interviews are orchestrated to challenge the minds of the best software engineers out there. Thus, proper system design training is always recommended before attending these interviews. A system design certification or other system analysis and design courses also go a long way when applying for managerial positions or better job roles in software projects.

The specialized system design interview course, Grokking the design interview, is the best system design course online.

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