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Architectural design software

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Updated on:
April 24, 2023
April 24, 2023
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The importance of architectural design software

Completing architectural designs can be fairly challenging for professionals without detailed planning. Regardless of how efficient your designs are, you need a visual image of these designs. Moreover, with well-defined designs, it’s easier for architects to re-use their best designs in the future as well.

You can cut down on code complexity and improve the overall efficiency of your designs. Similarly, onboarding new professionals, debugging your designs, and sharing them becomes pretty simple. With the right architectural design software, professionals can easily optimize their existing systems, ensuring they don’t face issues with their long-term design goals.

How software is changing the architecture industry

The world of architecture is expanding quickly, with innovations and practices entering the domain regularly. The market was worth $7.8 billion in 2018 and has grown in the past few years. Software designers understand how crucial these digital tools are for designers.

It’s why they focus on designing the best software to streamline designing and rendering in architecture. There’s no denying that software is changing the architecture industry; the following are some examples.

1. A concrete project base

Using software in architecture ensures every member knows what the projected trajectory should be. It provides information on the current project situation and how to improve it. The designers can access this information and the business direction for the best results.

2. Quicker design changes

It’s easier for designers to make substantial changes to their designs using the software. They can re-do the designs as many times as they want, create better quality designs, and test the integrity of their creations with simulations.

3. Higher adaptability

Architecture requires designers to stay on par with the changing market trends. With the help of design brief software, you can improve your design adaptability, use it as a base for future planning, and keep your architectural projects on track.

Part I: Types of architectural design software

With the increasing demand for architectural design, there’s a boost in the types of software. Today, we have a variety of CAD software designed to improve architectural designs. Here’s a comprehensive breakdown of this software:

  • 2D CAD Software

CAD (computer-aided design) is a digital tool used for various architectural tasks, such as drawing, creating, and editing architectural design. This software uses 2-dimensional drawing to create designs and is considered a base for all other designs.

The most popular examples of this 2D CAD software include the likes of AutoCAD, SketchUp, etc. With the help of this software, architects can design:

  • Landscaping layouts
  • Floor plans
  • Building permit drawings
  • Building inspection plans
  • 3D CAD Software

The 3D CAD software automates several aspects when designing products. It includes assistance with design actions, such as

  • Simulation testing
  • Manufacturing
  • Drawing and drafting
  • Data management
  • Computer generated animation

The most popular examples of this software include Revit, ArchiCAD, etc

Source: ArchiCAD
  • Building Information Modeling (BIM) Software

BIM software is another type of software used in architectural design. It offers help with various actions like:

  • Planning
  • Designing
  • Building
  • Operating BIM models, and more.

Vectorworks and Bentley are two of the most popular BIM software in the architectural industry.

  • Rendering and Visualization Software

The rendering and visualization software creates images from an architectural design and is often sued in the final stages of the process. You can try different visualization and rendering software like V-Ray, Lumion, etc.

Part II: Features and functionality

Architectural design software is the go-to option for professionals within the industry. These tools provide a variety of features and functionality that the designers should keep in mind to fully use them.

  • Drawing and drafting tools

The architectural design software is capable of drawing and drafting designs. They are equipped with the necessary tools and designs to make the creations as efficient and precise as possible.

  • Modeling and simulation

Architects can easily create models and run simulations for their designs to determine the real-life functionality of their designs. The modeling simulations help designers determine possible flaws within the final drafted designs.

  • Collaboration and communication

Communication and collaboration are vital aspects of designs because they determine the completion of the project. Using architectural design software, you can communicate and collaborate with the team members better, ensuring streamlined architecture.

  • Project management and documentation

The software used in architecture provides several project management options like monitoring, task assignment, and more. With the help of these tools, professionals can document and maintain their projects better.

  • Analysis and optimization

Analyzing architectural designs ensure you don’t miss out on important design aspects. Using automated tools increases the precision of detection—ensuring better results.

Part III: Emerging trends and technologies

With the changes in the architectural industry, the technologies and trends used have also changed. Professionals now have access to more sophistical tools and technologies, improving the industry as a whole. Here’s a quick list of trends that have become a part of the architecture industry.

  • Cloud Computing and Software as a Service (SaaS)

The demand for better digital tools increased in the 90s, and network infrastructure took the world by storm.

Today, designers no longer have to install or download their software. Instead, SaaS and cloud computing has simplified architectural task. This software provides added control to the designers, making it a practical and efficient option.

  • Virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR)

With the use of Mixed Reality (MR) in the industry, VR and AR are permanently changing how we see architecture. You can choose from various options as a designer, gain deeper insight into existing designs, and implement changes that would otherwise go unnoticed.

  • Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML)

AI and ML have contributed greatly to architecture by analyzing the modes, providing insights, and allowing designers to take data-driven decisions. The potential with ML and AI is virtually limitless—and could unlock new possibilities.

  • Internet of Things (IoT)

IoT is relatively the most complicated trend on this list. We see architects using IoT to optimize their current device network. These professionals can connect different IoT devices and give their designs an edge.

With the tech, designers can create a centralized unit for design control. It’s one of the most viable options for architects wishing to streamline the design process.

  • 3D printing and additive manufacturing

3D printing has unlocked new doors in architecture, allowing designers to bring tailored designs to life. Additive manufacturing and 3D printing are considered a part of contemporary architecture but have become vital to the industry.

Part IV: Best practices and tips for using architectural design software

The practices in architectural design have changed, and so should the designer’s approach. We have outlined the best practices and tips for your reference.

Following these tips ensures you don’t have trouble with your architectural designs from now on. Here’s what you need to do:

  • Evaluate your needs and goals

The first thing for your architectural design is a need and goal assessment. It’s only possible to complete the project on time if you know what’s needed.

We recommend using the assessment as a guide to set milestones for the design. First, determine if you need CAD software or Architecture project management software. You can adjust the needs through each step—ensuring on-time project completion.

  • Consider your budget and resources

Surpassing your resources and budget for an architectural design raises questions about one’s competency. Keeping your project under budget is necessary if you don’t want to waste money.

We recommend listing down all your expenses and cutting down where you can. This way, you’ll complete the project more efficiently and ensure you get more work.

  • Stay up-to-date on the latest developments

The trends in architecture are evolving, and so should your design style. As professionals, you should focus on the latest development and integrate them into your architectural designs. The more you optimize your working methods, the better your designs turn out to be.

For instance, the use of VR and AR in architecture has peaked since it provides more than a 3D design model. Start using these new technologies to stay one step ahead of the competition.

  • Invest in training and support

Training and support play a vital role in architecture because not every designer has the capability to complete all projects. Many designers don’t realize their full potential until they receive the latest training.

We recommend setting up these training programs for newer tech, ensuring each resource is capable enough to complete the best designs.

It’s not just an expense but a way to elevate your architectural designs. For instance, if your virtual assistant designers know 2D and 3D designing, it’s time to step up and help them step into AI and ML powered designing. These tools are automated and shouldn’t take too long to learn.

  • Collaborate and communicate with your team

The architectural design is a multi-step process and includes several professionals. Generally, the design process includes the following phases:

  1. Pre-design
  2. Schematic design
  3. Design development
  4. Construction documents
  5. Building permits
  6. Bidding and negotiation
  7. Construction Administration

Professionals need to collaborate and find a solution to issues that arise. It’s best to keep relevant individuals within the loop and streamline the overall business process. With a little training and planning, you can streamline your teams and get a good experience with them.

Get started with Bonsai free for 7 days:

Part V: Common challenges and solutions

Despite the amazing technology, software, and tools available for architects, they are still susceptible to errors and problems. These include the following:

  • Technical issues and errors

Technical issues such as internet problems or outdated problems negatively impact design efficiency. Ensure all your technical equipment is up-to-date to avoid facing issues later on.

  • Compatibility and integration problems

Issues in compatibility and integration can be massive issues without the right solutions. You can hire a technical expert to rectify integration and compatibility issues before they arise. You can also set up an in-house unit for your design requirements.

  • Learning curve and user adoption

Regardless of how efficient your designers are—they may require some time to learn technologies. There’s a learning curve involved, slowing down the team’s efficiency. Assist your team with training programs; they can be back on track faster than you think.

  • Security and privacy concerns

Data compromise and security issues are common problems with the inclusion of new technology in architecture. You wouldn’t want others to know about your upcoming designs and changes you are working on. Create efficient and secure networks with strict scrutiny to avoid data loss.

  • Data management and storage

Data storage and administration often need significant effort since you will establish facilities, recruit professionals, and update and safeguard data storage devices.

Experts advise outsourcing all of this because it can be time- and labor-consuming. You can take a seat, relax, and allow someone else to take care of your data management requirements.

Part VI: What comes after the design?

Once the design phase is complete, you still have one major challenge left—dealing with clients. Clients are usually in haste and want the quickest solutions for their dealings. As an architectural firm, it’s your job to have the right systems and tools. For example, after dealing with the design, you will deal with the following challenges.

  • Client communication & approvals

Gaining approvals from your clients takes a lot of effort and could even lead to issues without the right assistance. It’s why architects don’t compromise on the process and outsource it.

However, the kind of client you choose for the task also makes a difference. A good choice is the Bonsai Client Portal, as it’ll help you get real-time updates from your clients.

  • Scheduling purchase orders with builders/interior designers

Purchase order scheduling and interior designer payments can become more complicated than you think. Most people undermine the complexity with hundreds of clients, designers, and teams working under your business.

You never know when things get out of hand, costing your architectural firm thousands of dollars. Thus, businesses require better tools and partners for the process. You can give Bonsai Payments a chance, improving the payment structure of your company. It’s highly efficient, ensuring users can send, receive, and view their payments for better financial management.

  • Invoicing the client

Providing each customer with an invoice for new milestones can quickly multiply the workload you’re dealing with. Manually creating these invoices takes hours, which is not worth the trouble.

A better alternative is Bonsai Invoicing, which can help at this stage and as your business grows. It’s the smartest option for users who don’t want to miss out on clients because of poor reporting and invoicing.


Architectural design software plays a vital role in the industry. There are several different tools available which could change the industry’s future outlook. This software significantly helps improve the overall efficiency of your designs.

Therefore, we recommend picking the right software to ease your architectural tasks. If you’re looking for recommendations, don't hesitate to give Bonsai a try for free for 7 days.


  • What is the difference between 2d and 3d cad software?

CAD software differs based on the type of dimensions they support. 2D and 3D CAD both helps architects create designs but in 2-dimensional and 3-dimensional results, respectively. 3D CAD designs are generally considered better and in more detail.

  • What is BIM software, and how does it work?

BIM software is primarily used to optimize existing designs and give them better finishing than before. The BIM software scans the existing designs, allowing users to make significant changes.

You can view the objects created on the software through different perspectives, making it the best option for designers in architecture.

  • Can architectural design software be used for interior design?

The latest architectural design software is highly efficient and useful for creating newer designs. They are equipped with amazing rendering and drawing tools. However, some of the automated tools may be more efficient than others. So, architects should choose carefully.

  • How can I learn to use architectural design software?

You need a degree in software engineering or a relevant domain to learn the use of architectural design software. You can then scale your learning and understanding by gradually understanding how these software work.

Remember, architectural design software skills are more about practice. So, please take the time to carefully assess your options before deciding.

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