One of my "night jobs" is acting as an organizer of the Canadian Robotics Competition for high school students.
In short, students build a robot to play a game against other robots, as many as 5 on the field at the same time. Teams also submit a video, web site, and build a physical kiosk (akin to a trade show hall, but much more fun). The idea being that students with different talents and interests work together in cross-functional teams to participate in STEM (someone keen on video production with no experience in robotics still has to talk to the engineers, and vice versa).
Every year, we randomly assign numbers to teams, mostly out of habit. This number is common between the working groups (robot, video, etc) for a given school.
This has ended up causing more problems than it might have solved in the past. It's a piece of abstract, largely-irrelevant information for young people who forget it constantly.
This invariably causes students either to provide the wrong number for their school name, or to force them to look it up somewhere.
The only place the team number is useful at all is to identify robots physically during a competition heat so that the spectators and referees can see it. Writing, for example, "Collège de Bois-de-Boulogne" is simply too long physically.
Going one step further, I doubt people actually care. Experienced referees recognize robots after their first heat, and I suspect most spectators probably either:
- Only care about their friends' or kids' robots, and would already be able to identify it, or
- Are members of the general public and don't care who is who but just watch the action.
In this case, people who can't already identify it have to physically look it up in the printed booklet, something nobody does because they're focused on the action.
Could we therefore do away with team numbers completely and use only the school name to identify them, or de-emphasize the number and use it only in context of the physical competition and not for the other components (such as the web site).
Robots tend to look dramatically different from each other, so a verbal "the one with the big arm" is enough to identify one between people speaking.
I wonder if having the number adds to the overall experience, since it seems to have detracted from it.
While this sounds open-ended and opinion-based, I do believe their is a convincing, correct answer from a UX perspective. I can think of no better community to ask than UX professionals. Furthermore, something like A/B is more or less impossible in this scenario.