The Toggle Pattern is a very simple and useful design pattern that can be used to manage user preferences, settings, and other types of information. Toggles should be used sparingly, but when used correctly they can make a significant impact on the user experience. It is important to clearly label each toggle, provide a consistent visual design, and deliver immediate results when the toggle is activated. Using toggles to manage user preferences and settings allows the user to stay informed and in control of their interaction with a product, and can improve overall usability.
The term toggle refers to a switch that has two opposing states: A or B, on or off. This is a very common interface element and is present in almost all options menus. It is also found in hardware, where it is commonly used to connect components like lights or a motor.
When a toggle is activated the object changes into its changed state and is only switched back to its default state when the toggle is deactivated. Toggles that have more than two defined states must be specified by their trigger script. This is done by passing a control number to the toggle’s linked script(s) – see Fig. 4.
In the context of a user interface, toggles are typically implemented as sliders and use standard visual design to convey their functionality. They are best used when a user needs to decide between two opposing states of an interaction. In some cases, users may require multiple toggles to update their preferences or settings. In these situations, it is important to allow the user to toggle multiple settings simultaneously or in an order that makes sense to them.
A common implementation of a toggle is the key trigger, which provides a set of keys (taken from a generic keyboard or other key-outfitted controller devices) and for each key a list of objects to trigger. When a key is pressed the trigger script executes and alters the attributes or behaviors of all the objects in its list, which can be useful for testing multivariate or A/B experiments.
While a toggle can be implemented as a button or any other type of clickable element, it is generally more effective when implemented as a slider – a large horizontal bar that is easily recognized by users. It is also important to remember that different societal and cultural groups can have varying expectations regarding the use of color to signal on/off states.