Don’t make users learn codes in place of business terms

Here is a good example of bad user experience I came across recently.

In training, I was told the various status codes that health claims would be in.

  • 125 for a pending claim.
  • 483 for a paid claim.
  • And so on.

I was also told codes that indicate the results of business jobs

  • 0 means a claim has been priced completely.
  • 58 means claim has an unknown provider.
  • 26, 27,28 are violations of Wyoming state laws regarding Medicaid claims for black lung disease.
  • And so on.

Then they tested us on these codes.  I did poorly on the test. Who can remember all these damn codes?

So, I have a question.

Why can’t a pending claim simply be marked ‘pending claim’? Why must you come you convert that plain English status to a number?

If there are technical reasons for representing that status as a number, fine, do so.  However, why must I, the business user, be exposed to that number? Why can’t you keep the number to yourself, and tell me the claim’s status in plain English?

Why are you making me remember arbitrary numbers, when natural and easy to understand business terminology exist?

And last but not least, if the business user did not see these numbers, you can avoid a whole chunk of training.   Is that anything but a good thing?

This is an example of “Design is an act of communication“.

This is user experience.