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Discovery and user research

By using the Pega Express™ delivery approach, you can incorporate accessibility in all phases of the development life cycle to create an inclusive experience for users of your application. Pega Express is a light, design-focused delivery approach that uses the Pega low-code experience, best practices, and scrum to efficiently deliver meaningful outcomes. Design thinking techniques break the customer journeys into smaller, more manageable pieces called Microjourneys®. 

The Pega Express delivery approach includes four phases: Discover, Prepare, Build, and Adopt, as shown in the following figure: 

Four diamond boxes with Pega logo in the middle.  Boxes outline phases of Pega Express including Discover, Prepare, Build and Adopt.

The Pega Express delivery approach begins with the Discover phase. During the Discover phase, the focus is on understanding the outcomes that you want to achieve, prioritizing which Microjourneys to deliver first, and preparing for your project to start. From the accessibility standpoint, this phase includes the following tasks: 

  • Identify and engage users that might have accessibility challenges.
  • Use different research methods to gather input and feedback. 
  • Gather insights from your research that might impact your design.
  • Document user characteristics and include these insights in your team activities.

User identification and engagement

When you think about your project outcome, workflow tasks, and design during the Discover phase, consider the users of your application. Understanding the variety of users strengthens the decision-making process when you make design choices. You want to understand the wants, needs, and frustrations of your users.

According to the World Health Organization, people with disabilities make up 15% of the worldwide population. Including representatives from this population is critical in your tasks and design.

You can engage mobility and inclusive design teams and testers within organizations because they might already have a representative panel of users with whom to work. 

The following list describes demographics and characteristic considerations to keep in mind for your design choices:

  • Age: Is there a broad range of ages from less than 25 to over 65?
  • Culture, native language, and education level: Is there variation in background and education?
  • Role: Are the users full-time employees, part-time employees, contractors, or interns? Do their responsibilities vary?
  • Device: How do the users access their work (for example, mobile, desktop, or tablet)? 
  • Assistive technology: Do the users require (or prefer) special software or browser extensions to do their work efficiently?
  • Workstation: Do the users require specific hardware to work effectively, such as dual monitors, elevated desktops, or balance ball desk chairs?

Without engaging users or potential users of your system early in the process, challenges might occur much later when changes are difficult to make. This delay might impact the productivity of work and the possible adoption of the application. Also, people appreciate assisting with building a tool that they use for much of their day.

Investigation of different research methods

When you need to understand how users use your application, the best practice is to ask your users. You can use various ways to collect this information. The following interaction describes the three recommended techniques. You can use these techniques individually or in combination. When you decide on your approach, outline the goals and questions that help you achieve those goals. You might want to consider involving someone who specializes in conducting user research if your organization does not have anyone with this skill set.


Individual filling out a questionnaire

A survey can collect both quantitative and qualitative data. Use ratings to measure the strength of opinions and open-ended answers so people can share experiences. Because of the topic sensitivity, allow for anonymous submission.

Benefits: Includes a broad spectrum of users.

Drawbacks: Does not give an opportunity to analyze interesting answers in detail.




Two individuals casually talking with one taking notes.

With interviews, you have in-depth conversations with users in which you can ask specific questions and probe into particular areas based on the progress of the discussion.

Benefits:  Promotes deeper discussions to identify potential challenges.

Drawbacks: Includes fewer participants and might be time-consuming. Lack of interviewing experience might impact results.


Focus groups

Three women around a table discussing a topic.

With focus groups, you can reach out to multiple individuals and initiate deeper discussions.  

Benefits: Includes a variety of experiences and abilitities to probe further into challenges.

Drawbacks: Might expose varying comfort level of participants to share experiences in a group setting.



Insights that help drive accessibility

When you try to learn about your users and how to enable them to be the most efficient in your application, understand the accommodations they might require for optimal productivity. While you can discover these details through any of the research methods, take the following elements into consideration based on the user necessities that you identify in your research:


If the individuals who use your application represent a broad age range, consider the needs of an aging population. For example, think of screen magnification for low vision or other visual deficiencies, changes in mobility or use of a mouse, straightforward language, and a streamlined work process.

Culture, native language, and education level

Culture, native language, and education are important to frame your content. In your research, you want to understand how this information can impact your design. For example, the labels for your fields (such as date and time fields) and the language that you use for instructions might depend on localization needs. Avoid technical language, industry jargon, and organizational acronyms if possible. If necessary, provide documentation and training for your application to improve ease of access.


Roles play an important part in accessibility design if various employment types exist in an organization. Part-time staff, contractors, and interns might use the application for only short durations or cycle in and out through the year, so you want quick adoption with minimal training for optimal efficiency as their experience differs from full-time staff who are in the application every day. Simple workflows, non-cluttered and focused pages, informative instructions, and well-labeled fields are critical to accessible application design.

Assistive technology

In your research, you might identify users that require assistive technology to do their work. Users might use this technology for efficiency or they might require technological assistance for basic access. The following list describes commonly-used assistive technologies:

  • Screen readers: Provide users with limited visibility with a way to interact with written content and interactive elements. 
  • Screen magnifiers: Show options to enlarge content and elements on the screen for enhanced visibility. 
  • Text to speech: Converts text on the screen to audio for enhanced comprehension.  
  • Voice command software: Includes tools for users with mobility challenges to interact with the software by using their voice.

These technologies require proper design and configuration of your application to work appropriately. For example, sections and layouts require heading levels, and input fields require suitable labels and descriptions. Discuss accommodations for assistive technology in the Design phase so that requirements are clear for all team members.

You can use many other assistive technologies. For relevant training materials, see Testing for accessibility


Accessing content from a phone is a very different experience than viewing the same content on multiple large-screen monitors. Knowing how your users work helps you prioritize features and make critical decisions about essential content as opposed to secondary content. You usually expose secondary content only when a direct action needs it. For example, when you look at a desktop environment, you might see a set of navigation links that you can select. However, this same page on a mobile device might only show a menu icon that requires an action to open the navigation link options. Also, ensure that the responsiveness of all page elements is a vital component of accessibility design. Responsive design not only adjusts the size and proportion for users of mobile devices but also allows for magnification (or enlargement) of a page for users with limited vision. In either case, the user expects to have access to the same content and functionality regardless of the display.


In your research, consider any special hardware or peripherals that your users need for physical assistance. The needs might include refreshable braille systems and puff-and-switch mechanisms that blind or mobility-challenged individuals use, but also the use of the mouse, dual monitors, ergonomic desks and chairs that might indicate a chronic condition. Observing your users in their own work environment is particularly useful. This approach helps to identify and develop empathy for any challenges users might be facing. Observe if they have workarounds or different methods to complete tasks and notice if they are as efficient as their counterparts that might not rely on certain accommodations. Then, you can make design choices that meet the needs of all users.

User characteristics and unique processes

After growing awareness that your user base might include individuals with disabilities and recognizing the accommodations that they require, include them as part of your use cases. With the inclusion of your users, you can design, build, and test the various requirements. Engage with the participants from your research and involve them throughout the design and testing process. Iterative feedback is always beneficial to make small changes efficiently and early in the process.

Understanding the situation of your users upfront enhances design thinking and provides you with plenty of opportunities to make special considerations during the project. For relevant training materials, see Design thinking in Pega Express.

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