Designing during, and for Pandemics

Guest Editors


• Vasiliki Mylonopoulou, University of Gothenburg, Sweden

• Guido Giunti, University of Oulu, Finland and TU Delft, Netherlands  


Important dates


• Deadline: March 15, 2021 -> May 5, 2021 (extended)
• Notification to the authors: June 20, 2021
• Camera ready paper: July 10, 2021
• Publication of the special issue: end of mid August, 2021




Pandemics are a sudden increase in the number of cases of a specific disease above the expected, which spread over several countries or continents, affecting a massive number of people [4]. Until recently, we only thought of pandemics as things of the past, like the Spanish flue or the black plague. Nowadays, the whole world got to experience firsthand the COVID-19 pandemic, bringing the importance of infectious outbreak management front and center. However, COVID-19 is only one of the pandemics currently active: Tuberculosis kills millions of people every year, HIV/AIDS and Malaria kill hundreds of thousands per year, etc. [4]. Designing digital health solutions that can adapt to such world-changing events is very much a current issue.

In the face of a massive outbreak or pandemic, stakeholders such as government agencies and healthcare systems, begin strategic planning following well-described response protocols from established agencies such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The basic principles behind these protocols include planning and coordination, situation monitoring and assessment, reducing the spread of disease, continuity of health care provisions, and communications [3]. Unfortunately, no specific guidelines and considerations exist for other stakeholders such as Human-computer Interaction (HCI) researchers and practitioners so that they can mount their own strategic responses to a pandemic.

As HCI researchers and practitioners working on the health and wellbeing domain, it is important to understand pandemics, how to support stakeholders during the phases of a pandemic, and how to work on designing and developing health and wellbeing solutions during a pandemic. A pandemic influence both the user and their society. Designing technology during, and for these circumstances, requires a multidisciplinary approach in order to safely support people and societies, as well as rapidly adjust ongoing or already developed applications [1]. For example, an application for motivating people to stay physically active may need to be (re)designed to accommodate physical activity during a pandemic. Moreover, the methods we use for designing and evaluating technological artifacts (software/hardware) may need adjustment based on the pandemic stage. In circumstances where contact with users is restricted, new methods may need to be adopted or created to still perform research to understand the users’ needs, values, and wants [2]. 

A pandemic influences the design of previously designed health and wellbeing applications, the design of new applications targeting issues raised from the pandemic, and the way one conducts user research. This focus issue is a call to gather high-quality practices on how to adjust the designs and design process of health and wellbeing digital technologies for and during a pandemic. 

Are you working in the research or industry fields related to HCI, Interaction Design, Health Informatics, Health and Wellbeing, Information Processing Sciences, and Industrial Design? Then it is vital to contribute to this focused issue with your experiences on:

  • how the COVID-19 influenced the way you work with users of technology 
  • how the pandemic influenced your designs 
  • different type of designs you develop to support people during a pandemic e.g. HIV, Ebola, or COVID-19 prevention and management


1.    Lisa M. Koonin. 2020. Novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak: Now is the time to refresh pandemic plans. Journal of business continuity & emergency planning.

2.    Harold G. Nelson and Erik Stolterman. 2012. The design way : intentional change in an unpredictable world. The MIT Press.

3.    World Health Organization. 2009. Pandemic influenza preparedness and response. Health San Francisco. Retreaved  from [accessed 21.10.2020]

4.    World Health Organization. 2018. Managing epidemics: Key facts about major deadly diseases. Retreaved  from [accessed 21.10.2020]




Topics of Interest


• User studies during a pandemic. 

Did you face any challenges and limitations in your user studies (related to any stage of the design process) due to a pandemic? How did you tackle them?


• Adjustments and changes in health and wellbeing digital solutions.

Were you in process of designing or developing of a health or wellbeing digital solution and you had to change the idea or the design mid-way due to the pandemic? Did you have already a product in the market or in a study that you needed to adjust according to the pandemic? What did you learn through this process?


• Designs that can support different needs during and for a pandemic.

Did you design a solution to support people or public agencies needs during a pandemic? Share your design process and underline important points that make the difference related to the pandemic.


• Empowering citizens during a pandemic.

Did you work with vulnerable populations during a pandemic? E.g. not everyone had a home to be isolated during COVID-19, was safe in their home, or was uninfluenced psychologically from the new way of living. Did you work with how to empower people on handling the massive health information pushed to them by the media? Share your findings!


• Future visions of research in a post-COVID-19 world.

Can you envision a future for the post-COVID-19 world? What is the role of technology in it? 


Submission procedure 


All submissions must be original and may not be under review by another publication.

The manuscripts should be submitted anonymized either in .doc or in .rtf format. 
All papers will be blindly peer-reviewed by at least two reviewers. Perspective participants are invited to submit a 8-20 pages paper (including authors' information, abstract, all tables, figures, references, etc.). 
The paper should be written according to the IxD&A authors' guidelines .

Submission page -> link
(when submitting the paper please choose the section: FSI: Designing during, and for Pandemics')

For scientific advices and for any query please contact the guest-editor:


• vasiliki [dot] mylonopoulou [at] ait [dot] gu [dot] se

• guidoi [dot] giunti [at] oului [dot] fi


marking the subject as: 'IxD&A focus section on Designing during, and for Pandemics'.