What Is a Toggle?

A toggle is a small button that you push to quickly change its state, either turning it on or off. You use it on your computer or mobile device to switch between programs or settings.

Toggles are ideal for adjusting system settings and preferences (i.e. states of system functionalities). They’re more user friendly than radio buttons and take up less space on mobile. They also come with a pre-selected default state (ON or OFF) which can help reduce confusion.

They’re also often used in the case of experimental features that you want to deploy but only for a limited amount of time or that have a low impact jwtogel on your system performance. The toggles allow you to control the feature without affecting the production code and without having to restart your test environment every time you want to flip a flag.

The disadvantage of using toggles is that you have to manually change the toggle configuration, for example by editing a static file or by deploying an update to the application that changes the toggle configuration at runtime. This can be a pain and slows down the feedback loop with your product testing team. Savvy teams therefore try to limit the number of Release Toggles they introduce and are proactive in removing them from the codebase as soon as the experiment has been completed or when they no longer have any value. Some teams even add a task to their backlog to remove a Release Toggle every time they roll out a new version of their software and have an “expiration date” for their toggles, so that they’ll automatically fail a test if a toggle has expired.

In some cases, such as when you need to change the color of a toggle switch or when WCAG guidance on colors is in conflict with business priorities, it may be necessary to use a non-default color for the toggle state and rely solely on context to communicate the current state of the switch. However, it’s best to avoid the temptation to rely exclusively on color as a visual cue and instead incorporate a combination of different cues including movement and the use of a clear label for the switch that clearly describes its state.

This helps prevent cognitive problems that occur when you rely only on color to signal a toggle’s state. For example, if you use the color red for on and it’s associated with stop signs or traffic lights it can cause a lot of confusion. This is why it’s important to consider the societal and cultural implications of the toggle states you’re using before choosing the colors you need for your interface design. Toggle switches that look like sliders and utilize movement can be particularly effective at avoiding confusion. They can be particularly useful on mobile when you don’t have a lot of screen real estate and need to communicate the current state of a setting. They are also very easy to understand if the current state is not obvious to users based on other visual cues.