(review schedule updated on Mar. 16, 2016)

In the last thirty years, two trends have transformed the world of professional communication. On one hand, a global economy has increasingly placed professional communicators in multilingual and multicultural work environments. In such environments, disciplinary borders are blurred, markets are integrated, and ideas are shared across individuals and organizations. On the other hand, advances in technology have revolutionized the ways communication products are designed, shared, and assessed. Professional communicators must thus reach and serve a diverse population of stakeholders.

They do so with multimodal forms of communication that integrate both text, visuals, and audience interactions. Design no longer means “a picture is worth a thousand words.” It is now impacted by a holistic methodology often known as “design thinking.” Design thinking encompasses the entire process of creating professional communication products and services, including websites, social media campaigns, technical documentation, and information-driven user interfaces. Neumeier (2009) wrote that design “has been waiting patiently in the wings for nearly a century, having been relegated to supporting roles and stand-in parts” (p.18). Design thinking is now important to such disparate activities as branding, innovation, and cultivating optimal user experiences. As Vogel (2009) pointed out: “Only one company in a market can be the cheapest; the rest need design” (p.8).

In this way, the practice of designing across cultures has been brought to the forefront of professional communication in order to engage stakeholders in a globalized, multicultural marketplace. From a business perspective, communicators use design thinking to discover user goals, strategize content, structure teams, and create and evaluate prototypes. Design helps distinguish brands and increase value for enterprises. Design can also help bridge linguistic and breaks language and cultural barriers, however. It can create beneficial solutions for users from minoritized, underrepresented, and marginalized populations. Good design is thus culturally-sensitive as it must adapt to and respect cultural groups being served.

This special issue of connexions: international professional communication journal seeks to understand, articulate, and evaluate the role of design in professional communication across cultures. It aims to bring together scholars and practitioners who engage in design activities in a cross-cultural or multi-cultural context. Here culture is broadly defined. We seek articles related to nationality, race, ethnicity, age, gender, disability/accessibility, sexual orientation, as well as any other cultural/professional identities.

Suggested topic areas include, but are not limited to:

  • Design thinking in professional communication projects
  • Challenges in designing for multi-national and multi-cultural audiences
  • Affordances for specific genres of information products within specific cultures
  • The design, writing, and strategy of documentation
  • New approaches to particular sets of audiences and markets
  • Design pedagogy, curricula, training, and organizational development
  • Design project management and team work
  • Design in internationally-distributed work environments
  • Information design and its relationship to culture
  • The relationship between design, users, and professional communication


Neumeier, M. (2009). The designful company. In T. Lockwood (Ed.), Design thinking: Integrating innovation, customer experience, and brand value (pp. 15-22). New York, NY: Allworth.

Vogel, C. M. (2009). Notes on the evolution of design thinking: A work in progress. In T. Lockwood (Ed.), Design thinking: Integrating innovation, customer experience, and brand value (pp. 3-14). New York, NY: Allworth.


  • Submission deadline for manuscript abstracts: Mar. 31, 2016
  • Notification of initial acceptance: Apr. 30, 2016
  • Submission deadline for full-manuscript review: Sept. 30, 2016
  • Expected date of publication: Dec. 30, 2016

    (review schedule updated on Mar. 16, 2016)

Submission Procedures

  • Submit 500-word abstracts for original research articles, review articles, and teaching cases; or 250-word abstracts for focused commentary and industry perspectives.
  • Prepare a cover page for your abstract with 1.5 line spacing and Georgia, 12-point font.
  • Save the cover page and abstract in doc, docx, or rtf format.
  • Include in your cover page author(s) names, institutional affiliations, email addresses, and whether you are submitting a research article, a review article, a teaching case, a focused commentary, or an industry perspective.
  • Submit your abstract via email to Quan Zhou and Guiseppe Getto at quan.zhou@metrostate.edu.

Upon acceptance of your proposal, you will be invited to submit a full-length manuscript. All manuscripts that meet the journal’s standards and requirements will be, without exception, submitted to double-blind peer review.

Abstracts To Be Developed Into

  • Original research articles of 5,000 to 7,000 words
  • Review articles of 3,000 to 5,000 words
  • Teaching cases of 3,000 to 5,000 words
  • Focused commentary and industry perspectives articles of 500 to 3,000 words

Contact information

Quan Zhou
Metropolitan State University, 1380 Energy Lane, Suite 205-I, St. Paul, MN.

Guiseppe Getto
East Carolina University, 2108 Bate, Mail Stop #555, Greenville, NC, 27858-4353.

(review schedule updated on Mar. 16, 2016)