Improve the Usability of Toggles

A toggle is a button that allows users to set a state, either on or off. They are a common control in user interfaces, especially mobile apps. They are more convenient than radio buttons or checkboxes because they take less space, require fewer clicks to activate and offer a clearer indication of which state they are currently in. When used correctly, toggles can be a great tool to help improve the UX of your product. However, when overused, they can have a negative impact on your users’ experience.

A good way to improve the usability of your toggles is to make sure that they are clearly labeled and use standard visual design. It is also important to consider when to use them, as they should be applied only when a change has an immediate effect and there is no need for the user to press Save or Submit.

Toggles are a powerful tool, but it is important to use them sparingly. Too many toggles can lead to complexity and confusion for the rest of your team and can create technical debt that will be difficult to manage down the road. To avoid these problems, it is a best practice to keep feature toggling limited to small swaths of code, and to be sure that all toggles have an explicit ON/OFF state.

In addition, it is a good idea to give each toggle a meaningful name that provides some useful information for anyone on your team to understand what the toggle does and its purpose. This will be helpful when debugging issues that occur after the feature has been implemented.

Finally, it is a best practice to move toggle configuration out of static files and into some kind of centralized store, usually an existing application DB. This will simplify management, and can prevent the need to re-deploy code in order to change a toggle’s configuration.

Feature Toggles can be used to support newer agile development processes, by allowing teams to write features in a separate branch and then hide them behind a release toggle until they are ready for QA or to release them to a small segment of users. This approach is much faster than attempting to integrate the feature into trunk code during traditional waterfall development models.

One example of an A/B test is an e-commerce company’s experiment with two different algorithm to see which one provides the best suggestions for customers. They add an experiment toggle to their configurator and divide the users into a cohort that sees the A algorithm and a cohort that sees the B algorithm. After three weeks they have data that shows that the B algorithm is better and remove the experiment toggle.

Toggle configuration can be based on a variety of conditions, ranging from simple if statements through to complex decision trees that act upon multiple variables. Some of these conditions can be read dynamically at runtime, from outside sources like Kameleoon or from an existing config file.