Even the most rudimentary mobile functions, such as account alerts, have tripped up many banks — not because of the quality of the data or the technology, but simply because the text didn't fit the mobile device's screen.

User experience on mobile devices is harder to ensure than on the Web, as there are so many different types of mobile devices that it is hard to match usability to consumer expectations.

Zions Bank (ZION), which is growing its mobile banking suite to include text-message banking, remote deposit capture and special content for tablets, is working to respond quickly to ongoing user experience issues and navigation tendencies.

To minimize problems, Zions is tracking mobile usage with the help of tech tools such as Tealeaf CX Mobile, which it's licensing to view users' preferences, such as screen orientation and scrolling; as well as isolate and quantify deeper issues.

These issues are tracked on a dashboard that can locate user navigation troubles, either proactively or in response to customer queries. The bank can then view a synopsis of the customer or customers' sessions to make changes on the fly through integration with its underlying mFoundry mobile banking engine.

Matthew Wilcox, Zions' director of E-Business, spoke with Bank Technology News this week about how early detection can improve mobile design.

BTN: What's the mix of available devices for mobile banking across Zions' network of banks, and how can they be accessed?
Wilcox: We're on downloadable apps and optimized browsers. We will be shortly moving into SMS [text message] banking and mobile remote deposit capture. We'll also be putting that on the Tealeaf (mobile experience software) to watch how consumers are using the different devices and phones and if there are any hang-ups with RDC, which we'll be able to take care of when we find the problem.

What are your plans with tablets?
We are actively looking to deploy a tablet app later this year. The usage tracking and design response will work the same way as on mobile. We want to be able to see how people are using the devices, and where there may be issues with accessing certain functions or information where we can make adjustments on the fly.

How does the diversity of mobility, in terms of devices and types of apps, contribute to user experience issues?
The diversity creates more challenges in making sure we are best serving the limited and different spaces that we have to work with on the devices. By testing continually, we can match customer experience and expectation to what the customers are actually able to do and not do to our design for ongoing and active adjustments on each device and app, as opposed to doing testing and making adjustments in a future release a few months later.

What kinds of issues are you looking for?
We want to be able to see through the eyes of the customers, where they are using the devices. That includes how they are scrolling or engaging the handset, and if that enables users to find the information or function that they want. If there is a problem, we'll be able to replay user sessions and see what the user was looking at when they were using mobile banking. One of the biggest things we're looking for is what version of a device they are using, or what device they are using.

Why is that important?
For example, in testing we found a lot of adoption on Android devices, while we had been centering our app design on the iTunes App Store and making sure that experience was up to par. What happened was people were using the Android app a lot and the design and experience work we were doing on that side suffered a bit. But because we were able to find out that people were using the Android app in large numbers to access mobile banking at the time of access, we were able to quickly get caught up in our design and user experience.

How are the design changes handled?
We do design both in-house and with external partners. We work with mFoundry, our mobile banking tech provider, on design and function. Having this additional use information [from Tealeaf] will help [mFoundry] as well … On mobile devices, you only have a small window of opportunity to capture people and it's important to have the design right.