Software Architecture

Hire the Top 3% of Freelance Software Architects

Toptal is a marketplace for top Software Architects. Top companies and startups choose Toptal Software Architecture freelancers for their mission-critical software projects.

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Vasil Velikov

Freelance Software Architect

BulgariaToptal Member Since November 5, 2019

Vasil is a curious software engineer with in-depth knowledge of algorithms and mathematics. He has over ten years of experience writing high-performance software in C++. His expertise includes design, architecture, estimation, implementation, testing, integration, deployments, and documentation.

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Matthieu Achard

Freelance Software Architect

Dominican RepublicToptal Member Since November 4, 2019

Matthieu is a French full-stack developer who has mostly worked with JavaScript, TypeScript, Node.js, React, and React Native. With strong problem-solving skills and the ability to adapt to any given situation, Matthieu has been working remotely with international teams since 2015, contributing to the development of outstanding solutions.

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Gergely Varga

Freelance Software Architect

SingaporeToptal Member Since August 16, 2019

Since 2009, Gergely has successfully fulfilled many roles—software engineer, technology consultant, and computer scientist—on a variety of projects. He’s the type of developer who knows how to tackle problems and thrives in environments where he has stimulating tasks that challenge him. What drives Gergely is his passion for disruptive and cutting-edge technologies, and he keeps up with them on a daily basis.

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Mike Szyndel

Freelance Software Architect

GermanyToptal Member Since June 28, 2017

Mike is a seasoned full-stack developer and software architect with in-depth knowledge of Node.js, Ruby on Rails, and React. He has a unique ability of understanding and translating business requirements into development roadmaps. In his previous roles as a team lead and CTO, he has developed strong project management and communication skills.

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Josip Blažević

Freelance Software Architect

CroatiaToptal Member Since May 16, 2017

For over the past 17 years, Josip has worked as a software engineer developing and integrating mission-critical enterprise applications and systems. He specializes in current front-end and Java-based back-end technologies and is extremely adept at finding the most-simple-but-effective solutions for complex engineering problems. Through his many leadership roles, he has developed strong communication skills and a proactive, can-do mentality.

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Levon Arkelatyan

Freelance Software Architect

ArmeniaToptal Member Since October 14, 2016

Levon has more than a decade of experience creating various software apps from mobile and web to EDA and trading systems. He began his career as a C++ developer then switched to back-end (PHP, Node.js) and iOS development. He has worked for big companies and small startups. Levon started freelancing six years ago and has been doing it full-time in the past few years. He also believes that good communication is crucial to remote project work.

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Fabio Andrés Turizo Correa

Freelance Software Architect

ColombiaToptal Member Since September 5, 2015

Fabio is a software engineer with over nine years in IT, focusing on software architecture and development. He's an Oracle Certified Professional and specialist in Java SE/EE platforms. He is good with project management, a Certified Scrum Master and PSP developer, with extensive knowhow in Agile SW architecture, CMMI for development, enterprise integration patterns, and HTML/JavaScript development.

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Joseph Halter

Freelance Software Architect

LuxembourgToptal Member Since February 10, 2015

After having worked as a developer in finance for several years, Joseph transitioned to a contracting role, which allowed him to gain experience across diverse industries, including HR, entertainment, and healthcare. He has collaborated with organizations of all sizes, ranging from startups to Fortune 500 companies.

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Jihad Asad

Freelance Software Architect

PalestineToptal Member Since December 10, 2019

Jihad is an experienced senior software engineer with more than seven years of extensive experience and skills as a full-stack developer primarily specializing in Java Spring/Struts, Angular, and React. He has a demonstrated history of working in eCommerce and e-health care industries from small and short-term projects to huge real-time systems.

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Yoni Levy

Freelance Software Architect

IsraelToptal Member Since December 10, 2019

Yoni fell in love with programming at the age of 11, and now he doesn't know how to stop. He started his professional career with C++ and has since transitioned his focus to more user-facing software. For the past decade, he was hands-on with all parts of the stack at high-profile startups. He's currently looking to help create exceptional iOS/macOS apps, with experience shipping sophisticated iOS apps since before the App Store existed.

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Ondrej Hirjak

Freelance Software Architect

SlovakiaToptal Member Since February 5, 2019

Ondrej is a software architect with technical management skills and 19+ years of experience in shipping projects, from low-level kernel drivers and GPU computations to high-speed peer-to-peer networks and enterprise finance and gaming apps. He has hands-on experience in the software development lifecycle, from ideas to live operations, focusing on high-level architecture, design, and management. Ondrej thrives on projects where he takes ownership and delivers the project from start to finish.

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A Hiring Guide

Guide to Hiring a Great Software Architect

The software architect's role is a blend of a senior developer, a team lead, and a CTO—but the proportions vary wildly throughout the industry. Find out what a great software architect is like in this handy hiring guide.

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Despite accelerating demand for coders, Toptal prides itself on almost Ivy League-level vetting.

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Building a cross-platform app to be used worldwide
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Tripcents wouldn't exist without Toptal. Toptal Projects enabled us to rapidly develop our foundation with a product manager, lead developer, and senior designer. In just over 60 days we went from concept to Alpha. The speed, knowledge, expertise, and flexibility is second to none. The Toptal team were as part of tripcents as any in-house team member of tripcents. They contributed and took ownership of the development just like everyone else. We will continue to use Toptal. As a start up, they are our secret weapon.

Brantley Pace, CEO & Co-Founder


I am more than pleased with our experience with Toptal. The professional I got to work with was on the phone with me within a couple of hours. I knew after discussing my project with him that he was the candidate I wanted. I hired him immediately and he wasted no time in getting to my project, even going the extra mile by adding some great design elements that enhanced our overall look.

Paul Fenley, Director

K Dunn & Associates

The developers I was paired with were incredible -- smart, driven, and responsive. It used to be hard to find quality engineers and consultants. Now it isn't.

Ryan Rockefeller, CEO


Toptal understood our project needs immediately. We were matched with an exceptional freelancer from Argentina who, from Day 1, immersed himself in our industry, blended seamlessly with our team, understood our vision, and produced top-notch results. Toptal makes connecting with superior developers and programmers very easy.

Jason Kulik, Co-Founder


As a small company with limited resources we can't afford to make expensive mistakes. Toptal provided us with an experienced programmer who was able to hit the ground running and begin contributing immediately. It has been a great experience and one we'd repeat again in a heartbeat.

Stuart Pocknee , Principal

Site Specific Software Solutions

We used Toptal to hire a developer with extensive Amazon Web Services experience. We interviewed four candidates, one of which turned out to be a great fit for our requirements. The process was quick and effective.

Abner Guzmán Rivera, CTO and Chief Scientist

Photo Kharma

Sergio was an awesome developer to work with. Top notch, responsive, and got the work done efficiently.

Dennis Baldwin, Chief Technologist and Co-Founder


Working with Marcin is a joy. He is competent, professional, flexible, and extremely quick to understand what is required and how to implement it.

André Fischer, CTO


We needed a expert engineer who could start on our project immediately. Simanas exceeded our expectations with his work. Not having to interview and chase down an expert developer was an excellent time-saver and made everyone feel more comfortable with our choice to switch platforms to utilize a more robust language. Toptal made the process easy and convenient. Toptal is now the first place we look for expert-level help.

Derek Minor, Senior VP of Web Development

Networld Media Group

Toptal's developers and architects have been both very professional and easy to work with. The solution they produced was fairly priced and top quality, reducing our time to launch. Thanks again, Toptal.

Jeremy Wessels, CEO


We had a great experience with Toptal. They paired us with the perfect developer for our application and made the process very easy. It was also easy to extend beyond the initial time frame, and we were able to keep the same contractor throughout our project. We definitely recommend Toptal for finding high quality talent quickly and seamlessly.

Ryan Morrissey, CTO

Applied Business Technologies, LLC

I'm incredibly impressed with Toptal. Our developer communicates with me every day, and is a very powerful coder. He's a true professional and his work is just excellent. 5 stars for Toptal.

Pietro Casoar, CEO

Ronin Play Pty Ltd

Working with Toptal has been a great experience. Prior to using them, I had spent quite some time interviewing other freelancers and wasn't finding what I needed. After engaging with Toptal, they matched me up with the perfect developer in a matter of days. The developer I'm working with not only delivers quality code, but he also makes suggestions on things that I hadn't thought of. It's clear to me that Amaury knows what he is doing. Highly recommended!

George Cheng, CEO

Bulavard, Inc.

As a Toptal qualified front-end developer, I also run my own consulting practice. When clients come to me for help filling key roles on their team, Toptal is the only place I feel comfortable recommending. Toptal's entire candidate pool is the best of the best. Toptal is the best value for money I've found in nearly half a decade of professional online work.

Ethan Brooks, CTO

Langlotz Patent & Trademark Works, Inc.

In Higgle's early days, we needed the best-in-class developers, at affordable rates, in a timely fashion. Toptal delivered!

Lara Aldag, CEO


Toptal makes finding a candidate extremely easy and gives you peace-of-mind that they have the skills to deliver. I would definitely recommend their services to anyone looking for highly-skilled developers.

Michael Gluckman, Data Manager


Toptal’s ability to rapidly match our project with the best developers was just superb. The developers have become part of our team, and I’m amazed at the level of professional commitment each of them has demonstrated. For those looking to work remotely with the best engineers, look no further than Toptal.

Laurent Alis, Founder


Toptal makes finding qualified engineers a breeze. We needed an experienced ASP.NET MVC architect to guide the development of our start-up app, and Toptal had three great candidates for us in less than a week. After making our selection, the engineer was online immediately and hit the ground running. It was so much faster and easier than having to discover and vet candidates ourselves.

Jeff Kelly, Co-Founder

Concerted Solutions

We needed some short-term work in Scala, and Toptal found us a great developer within 24 hours. This simply would not have been possible via any other platform.

Franco Arda, Co-Founder

Toptal offers a no-compromise solution to businesses undergoing rapid development and scale. Every engineer we've contracted through Toptal has quickly integrated into our team and held their work to the highest standard of quality while maintaining blazing development speed.

Greg Kimball, Co-Founder

How to Hire Software Architects through Toptal


Talk to One of Our Industry Experts

A Toptal director of engineering will work with you to understand your goals, technical needs, and team dynamics.

Work With Hand-Selected Talent

Within days, we'll introduce you to the right software architect for your project. Average time to match is under 24 hours.

The Right Fit, Guaranteed

Work with your new software architect for a trial period (pay only if satisfied), ensuring they're the right fit before starting the engagement.

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Access a vast pool of skilled developers in our talent network and hire the top 3% within just 48 hours.


  • How are Toptal software architects different?

    At Toptal, we thoroughly screen our software architects to ensure we only match you with talent of the highest caliber. Of the more than 200,000 people who apply to join the Toptal network each year, fewer than 3% make the cut. You’ll work with engineering experts (never generalized recruiters or HR reps) to understand your goals, technical needs, and team dynamics. The end result: expert vetted talent from our network, custom matched to fit your business needs.

  • Can I hire software architects in less than 48 hours through Toptal?

    Depending on availability and how fast you can progress, you could start working with a software architect within 48 hours of signing up.

  • What is the no-risk trial period for Toptal software architects?

    We make sure that each engagement between you and your software architect begins with a trial period of up to two weeks. This means that you have time to confirm the engagement will be successful. If you’re completely satisfied with the results, we’ll bill you for the time and continue the engagement for as long as you’d like. If you’re not completely satisfied, you won’t be billed. From there, we can either part ways, or we can provide you with another expert who may be a better fit and with whom we will begin a second, no-risk trial.

Software Architecture

8 Traits of a Great Software Architect

You can see a business need developing. Maybe it’s a startup with a new product that the company depends on, or an enterprise business releasing a new product or feature to the mass public. Whatever the case, developing an application that serves said business need in an optimal way while maintaining quality code—this is no simple task. But who is responsible for designing the development plan or the project roadmap that will serve the business needs? Who is qualified to make such decisions?

These questions both have the same answer: a software architect.

But what exactly is a software architect?

A software architect is usually a developer with extensive end-to-end product experience, in addition to knowledge and skills in some non-technical areas that we’ll get into below. The software architect role is not even necessarily a full-fledged position: Instead, it’s more of a title that is given to a developer who has what it takes to take a business idea and turn it into a complete product.

Thus the software architect’s role is a blend of a senior developer, a team lead, and a CTO—but the proportions vary wildly throughout the industry. Let’s dive into what they typically have in common.

1. Software Architects Have an Eye for the Type of Client

A great software architect has an eye for the type of client they are working with. Some clients don’t have a clear vision of what is possible. They have no long-term plan for their product, constantly changing requirements and structure.

It’s the software architect’s job to have an accurate view of such approaches. This means presenting possible future plans and designs that could serve the development team to prevent breaking changes.

Or the early introduction of some features that may require heavy refactoring in the codebase or even data migrations if presented late. For example, a migration from a NoSQL database to an SQL database might take weeks or even months to prepare for. The scripts and procedures to maintain consistency of the data and a rewrite of the back-end functionality to work with the new database is not an easy task.

The other type of client is the one who knows exactly what he/she wants. They have a clear roadmap for the product and a clear vision. They still fall short on some things, and business usually forces the roadmap to change sooner or later. But at least they have a plan. This type makes the life of a software architect much easier, but it introduces some challenges. Firstly, the software architect needs to make sure that the roadmap actually has a reasonable timeframe (discussed below). Secondly, sometimes it introduces constraints like the integration with a badly documented API just because it’s cheaper for the business to use that service for example.

2. Software Architects Understand Business Requirements

A top software architect is able to communicate effectively with the business owner, the CEO, or the client. They are able to tease out exactly what the client has in mind for the output while keeping the technical difficulties and challenges in the back of their mind.

Software architects are able to effectively:

  • Discuss requirements and challenges with technical and non-technical clients alike
  • Simplify and draw a conclusion to the client’s requirements

And on the development side, they are able to:

  • Draw a sketch of the relevant data models and how they are connected to one another
  • Understand the best language(s), database(s), and tools that best serve the project’s requirements
  • Dig deep into the requirements and extract the tiniest details to explain and discuss with the development team

Without these skills, a software architect will be building the wrong product from the beginning—an expensive strategy, to be sure!

3. Software Architects Excel at Time Management

A great software architect is also able to manage their time effectively. A software architect doesn’t have to be a team lead: They could be the sole developer of a product or a member of a team of developers.

That said, a software architect acting as a team lead will know how to quickly learn the capabilities of the team they’re leading. They’ll be able to reasonably estimate the time needed for the development of the product, taking into account emergencies, delays, or other problems that may arise. In other words, they’ll be able to give a best-case- and worst-case-scenario estimate for the time needed.

As for software architects working as team members, they are responsible for listening carefully to the estimated time proposed by the team lead and the requirements to be delivered and setting a personal timeline for delivery. They are also responsible for pointing out to the team lead any points they might have missed and/or anything unclear in the requirements given.

4. Software Architects Are Usually Polyglots

Software architects understand that there is no tool that does everything right. Nothing suits everything perfectly. The same concept applies to programming languages, frameworks, libraries, and databases.

Although most popular programming languages can get the job done, they’re not always the best choice for developing the product at hand. Take Node.js as an example: Certainly, it’s a great tool for almost all applications, but it’s not always rainbows.

Having to deal with things like the event loop and blocking code might sometimes slow execution if used in the wrong way, harming the resulting user experience. So while Node.js may be an architect’s personal favorite to develop with, they might put it aside in favor of a Golang-based approach when concurrency is involved. Likewise, they might recommend a Ruby on Rails back end when the client is in a hurry and doesn’t need fine-tuning: Rails’ copious use of magic means it serves as a very effective rapid development framework.

Not only is it a matter of choosing the right programming language, but also about deciding which database to use. Software architects’ first decision is whether to go with an SQL database or a NoSQL database. That depends on multiple variables that are set during the software design phase.

Even after that choice is made, another choice has to be made: Which exact database will be used? Should you go for PostgreSQL or MySQL, if you’re using an SQL database? Should you go for MongoDB or CouchDB, if you’re comparing NoSQL databases?

This is just a simple example that can sometimes be solved by personal preference or the comfort of the development team. But sometimes it will depend on other, non-trivial factors. For example, if you need to store time-series entries you would better off using a database that is optimized for that, such as InfluxDB. It’s no longer a preference, but instead a need: for the sake of performance, scalability, and future-proofing.

The bottom line is that software architects don’t confine themselves to a certain programming language or paradigm and use it everywhere for everything they do. They understand that every tool is suitable for a certain job and instead of being repulsed by change, they embrace it.

5. Software Architects Know the Development Community

Software architects are aware of their wider developer community and its adoption of new trends. They don’t follow trends blindly but instead keep an eye out for potential solutions that can disturb the industry. They may even become an early adopter of a certain technology, in some cases: Flutter was adopted by some companies to develop cross-platform mobile applications before the release of its first stable version.

This isn’t only about new trends, but also about awareness of current technologies. Sometimes a technology gets overtaken by a competitor that serves the same purpose but delivers better features or experiences. For example, Docker Swarm was in a tight race with Google’s Kubernetes for a few years, until it was obvious that the community was more interested in Kubernetes.

A great software architect is aware of such changes in the community. They know it would be pointless to look for developers or DevOps engineers with experience in Docker Swarm when it’s clear that Kubernetes is taking over and sticking to the current technology might be more harmful to the company and the product more than the good it is delivering.

6. Software Architects Know When to Break Code

Sometimes a product is already built, and in many cases, its existing functionality needs to change. This could be a management decision, a decision made for security reasons, or a number of other reasons.

Other times the code might be good, but the app’s popularity is growing really fast and there is an increased demand on the features to be delivered.

These are some scenarios that a software architect might be challenged with. And their solution might be summarized by one word: “breaking.”

Breaking the code can have two definitions.

The first type is the introduction of solutions that change how the application behaves. It could be for the sake of code readability, the ability to debug faster, or for the performance and/or stability of the app itself.

For example, Stripe used to support cryptocurrencies. An app using Stripe had to have a chunk of code written in its back end to handle transactions with such currencies. When they decided to end support for cryptocurrency payments in 2018, they broke their codebase. They also started a race-the-clock situation for all clients that had implemented the cryptocurrency API—they suddenly faced a deadline either to stop accepting such cryptocurrency payments or migrate to a different payment gateway, at least when handling that kind of payment.

The second type of code-breaking is related to splitting up the codebase. Sometimes applications get so big that they become slow, or too incoherent and dependant to work with. Other times it’s simply the fact that one feature of an application is used more than another.

Facebook, for example, has separate back-end applications for chat, news feed, games, and other features. Imagine that Facebook had a surge in usage for their chat application. If they had to scale everything related to Facebook just to serve the demand for the chat feature, that would be a really expensive scale. This is why each large feature of an application is usually supported by its own set of back-end services. These microservices can scale fast with a low initialization footprint.

7. Software Architects Know How to Be Cost-Effective

A software architect can also be responsible for making decisions about your app’s deployment. If you’re a startup and you still have a small number of users, it doesn’t make sense to start deploying your application on six different servers distributed in three different regions with three replicas of your database. It’s also illogical to deploy your application, database, and user-uploaded files all on the same five-dollar server with no backup.

Both approaches are wrong. The first is overkill and the second is far too risky. Software architects can predict the size of hardware needed to run your application and use it in a safe manner, without spending too much money on idle servers.

But being cost-effective is not just about deployment and servers. It can also be about the development team that is going to work on the product. We’ve seen it happen where a team of four junior developers was hired, estimated some work would take two months, and delivered the product in eight. Meanwhile, the quality was low and the code was undocumented—a burden for the team that would end up maintaining it.

Great software architects know that it’s better to hire two seniors who will develop the application in a clean, structured way in three months. Sure, everyone has to start somewhere, but the point is, a software architect team lead should have the ability to know when and where to invest the client’s money and resources, and when it’s simply a waste.

8. Software Architects Have an Eye for User Experience (UX)

A software architect is not simply a coder, but instead, they are able to put themselves in the end user’s shoes. They have an accurate idea of how the user will behave. Software architects are also able to gauge how easy is it to deal with the system. Although the main responsibility for that point lies in the hands of the UI/UX designer, it’s still coupled with how the system works in the background.

The development team always knows their way around the app they’ve built, which sometimes makes them forget that new users will need to adapt to new icons, UI flows, or features added to the app. The challenge is to make this adaptation as smooth and short-lived as possible. This happens by following market trends in design. After all, what’s considered “intuitive” is an ever-changing target, complicated by expectations created by other apps the user interacts with.

But even within that, there’s room to make things as simple and consistent as possible. For example, we’ve seen an app in production where the user’s name acted as a link to open the user’s profile, but the user’s picture was left with no action when pressed.

The default behavior that people are used to is that when you press on a user’s picture or the name, you open the profile or a summary of the profile. This is the current standard since it makes it easy to access relevant profile info. But in the example above, on a relatively small screen, it was hard to press on the name and sometimes required multiple presses to get it right. Such a design might even suggest to users that there is no way to navigate to a profile through this context.

Another UX snafoo we’ve seen in production is attaching the functionality of the navigation drawer button to the floating action button (FAB). This is just counterintuitive. A great software architect will catch such issues in the design stage.

In terms of UX, a software architect basically follows one rule: Make it as simple as possible.

The Software Architect in a Nutshell

Software architect is not a title that just any developer can hold, and now you’ve seen the criteria that sets one apart. Software architects have a huge responsibility for what is delivered to the client, and also for making everyone’s lives easier. Choosing a great software architect for your next project is a key ingredient in delivering a successful product—so choose wisely.

Top Software Architects are in High Demand.

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