What is it?
A Design Rationale explains the reasons for the choices made, and for the choices not made (i.e., the alternatives considered, but not chosen). It tells the reader why you did what you did.
In HCI the rationale might refer to the Task Analysis, the User Analysis, the Requirements, Constraints, Preferences, and Evaluation Criteria.
It should include reasons for the overall look and feel of the interface, including format, colors, styles of interaction (e.g., menus, buttons, etc) and the possible paths through the interface.
Once that is done, the rationale for the details can be presented. This would include such things as icons used, placement and size of text boxes, defaults provided, etc.
dcb at cs wpi edu / Wed Mar 11 15:54:35 EDT 2015