How to write a professional-quality rationale

Is anybody willing to show some samples of rationales they’ve written? Or someone else’s? I’m a student and I don’t believe we were taught how to write a proper rationale. I’ve never read a professional one. I had a different major my freshman year, my classmates might have been taught then…

In school, whenever my classmates and I submit rationales for our designs (not all professors require them), we just write whatever. Our professors don’t correct them. We have a just-submit-what-i-tell-you-to-submit-and-you-shall-pass-my-course mentality here. Please HELP!


For us the format for explaining our thinking varies a lot. Specifically, it is different for product strategy (business/market/capability based), design concept (consumer/retail/market based), engineeering (schedule/cost/retailer), you get the idea.

It also depends on the relationship with the client and the phase of development. I say all of this to cover myself from possible caustic comments about the generality I am about to give in an effort to help.

Generally, you can explain your research findings, concept exploration range, direction selection and refinement choices by showing that they were guided by a desire to postion the product to be compelling for your target user.

I hope this helps.

In my 4 years of school and 12 years since, I’ve never seen a written rationale, so I wouldn’t know one if it bit me.

I do frequently participate in engineering “design reviews” where we will walk through the design phase, what was done (research, positioning, testing, prototyping etc.) and describe how directions were chosen and how the concept evolved as a result. This is always done in Powerpoint, and is highly visual. Design reviews provide participants an opportunity to critique as a way to ensure quality. These also come in handy for managment phase-gate presentations. It helps to show due-dilligence when asking for money to continue to the next phase.

Up until a few years ago I had never written it out either but a growing number of our clients are asking us to write it out either for VC presentations or buyer meeting. Still, it only adds up to a couple of times a year.

wow…i see :slight_smile: thanks cg & aaron!

um, so does anyone have a link to a sample of a proper rationale? I looked at coroflot portfolios but couldn’t find rationales for products there…

ditto (except only 10 years experience :wink: ) Lots of well crafted powerpoints outlining objectives, future direction, research, consumer profiles, distribution strategies and how it all rolls into design… writing these things and making them compelling is an art form.