Encoding ordinal data. Ordinal data is data that has an order. Ordinal data can be assumed to be interval. The Likert scale distance from 1 to 2 has the same magnitude from 6 to 7.
Ordinal data can also be treated as if it were nominal. In this case, each value has no ranking and is similar to colors in a crayon box. There is no order.
Ultimately, the best practice is to try different encodings to see which works best for you.