Software design is the process by which an agent creates a specification of a software artifact intended to accomplish goals, using a set of primitive components and subject to constraints. The term is sometimes used broadly to refer to "all the activity involved in conceptualizing, framing, implementing, commissioning, and ultimately modifying" the software, or more specifically "the activity following requirements specification and before programming, as ... [in] a stylized software engineering process."
Software design usually involves problem-solving and planning a software solution. This includes both a low-level component and algorithm design and a high-level, architecture design.
^Ralph, P. and Wand, Y. (2009). A proposal for a formal definition of the design concept. In Lyytinen, K., Loucopoulos, P., Mylopoulos, J., and Robinson, W., editors, Design Requirements Workshop (LNBIP 14), pp. 103–136. Springer-Verlag, p. 109 doi:10.1007/978-3-540-92966-6_6.