How to Effectively Use Toggle in Your Web Design

Toggle is a user interface element that enforces a mutually exclusive state (on or off) and allows users to manage the state of content or a view. Toggles are often used to update preferences, settings, and other types of information. When used well, toggles can improve the usability of your site or app. In contrast, when used poorly, they can create confusion and frustrate your users. When using toggles, make sure to clearly identify what the switch does, use standard visual design for them, and deliver immediate results.

The word toggle is a verb that means “to shift back and forth between two positions.” Toggle switches are commonly found in computer hardware and software; for example, the keys on your keyboard that control Caps Lock and Num Lock function as toggles. However, toggles are also commonly used to describe the ability to shift between different views on a website or within an application.

Toggles are generally recognizable by the fact that they have two distinct states and provide clear visual cues when the switch is in one of those states. For instance, a toggle will usually have an icon that communicates its current state and a color that signals whether it is on or off. Unlike checkboxes and radio buttons, which are accessible on most devices, toggles can be inaccessible for users with screen readers and other assistive technologies.

In addition to making sure the toggle is clearly identified and that its state is immediately visible, it’s important to evaluate if your usage of toggles can benefit from other visual cues such as color or movement. The reason is that not everyone can read the words on/off – they must rely on other visual clues. This can be a challenge, especially for people with red/green color blindness.

Toggle is a great way to let users manage the state of content or a view, but it’s best not to use them for other purposes. If you want to give your users the freedom of choice between multiple options, instead consider using a dropdown menu or other user-interface elements that allow users to select from multiple outcomes. This will prevent cognitive overload and increase user satisfaction. To learn more about how to effectively use toggles, download our free guide, Toggle.