What Is a Toggle?

A toggle is a switch that has two positions—on or off. It can also refer to an action that alternates between states, like switching back and forth between a video chat with two friends at the same time.

Toggles are often used to allow users to update preferences, settings, and other types of information. When used well, toggles can deliver immediate results and provide a consistent user experience across devices and platforms. But if not designed properly, they can cause confusion and lead to frustration for users.

A good toggle button should have clear labels that clearly state what will happen when the toggle is turned on and what its current state is. These labels should be short and direct so that they are easy to understand without having to read the toggle button text. They should also use a high-contrast color to make it easy for users to discern its state. In addition, designers should consider societal and cultural considerations when using colors to indicate states, as the same color may have different meanings in different cultures.

When a toggle is in its “off” state, the visual cue that most users will see is the background of the toggle button turning white. If the toggle is in its “on” state, however, the visual cue that will be seen is the background of the toggle button becoming dark. This is because the default behavior of most people is to assume that when a button is in its on state, it should be active.

Another common problem with toggles is when they are used to control something that doesn’t actually have a persistent state, such as when an app uses a toggle for downloading content. This is a misuse of toggles because it doesn’t actually have a permanent state, and the fact that the toggle is on doesn’t tell the user what will happen when they press it again.

In general, toggles are best used for system settings or preferences that have a pre-selected default state (either ON or OFF). They can also be used to replace checkboxes when the choice has a clear and definitive outcome. If the choice is more subjective or ambiguous, a radio button or checkbox is a better option. Toggle buttons should never be used for form fields that require a Save or Submit button to apply changes, as this can lead to user frustration and confusion.