Pre-production: Plan the human-centred design process

This phase is not covered by the HCD standard, however decisions made here can have a major influence on the success of the design. The discussion here has to do with production of initial documentation but not the creative activity involved in identifying new products or solutions.

I recommend writing a concept document (or in media contexts a proposal) to record the intention for, constraints on, and broad approaches to the development. This supports the designer in making their ideas firm enough to take forward into analysis and design, and enables all stakeholders in the project to understand just what is being proposed.

There are a number of templates available for documenting the initial concept. A very detailed documentation set that supports a complete software development project, and that can be considered the ‘grandparent’ of many other templates, is that developed by NASA [NASA]. The element ‘NASA-DID-P100 Concept Data Item Description’ describes itself as:

“The purpose of the Concept is to provide an overview of the software. The Concept section should be relatively brief. The Concept provides the context in which to read the Requirements section of the Product Specification. All requirements should be traceable, in a general sense, to the functions or capabilities described in the Concept. However, the Requirements section (or document, if the section is rolled-out), is the governing specification for the product.”

It contains the following sections:

  1. Introduction
  2. Related Documentation
  3. Definition of
    1. Purpose and Scope
    2. Goals and Objectives
    3. Description
    4. Policies
  4. User Definition
  5. Capabilities and Characteristics
  6. Sample Operational Scenarios
  7. Abbreviations and Acronyms
  8. Glossary
  9. Notes
  10. Appendices

For details of these sections consult the standard itself.

A popular proprietary template is the ‘Voleri Requirements Specification Template’, sold by The Atlantic Systems Guild Ltd. [The Atlantic Systems Guild Ltd.]

A variety of other project ‘kick-off’ documentation templates are available on the web.


NASA (1991). NASA-STD-2100-91 Software Documentation Standard. [online] Available at: <>

The Atlantic Systems Guild Ltd., Voleri Requirements Specification Template. [online] Available for purchase at <>


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