What is a Toggle?

Toggle is a word that describes the act of switching back and forth between two things, like when you video chat with two people at once, or when you toggle between different screens while working. It can also refer to the hardware or software that allows you to switch between functions. The Caps Lock and Num Lock keys on your keyboard are examples of toggle switches, because they turn specific functions on or off.

The term toggle was first used to describe a pin that was passed through the eye of a rope or chain to fasten it around a stay, mast, or anchor. More recently, it has been used to describe a kind of button or switch that is either on or off. You can use it to turn a light on and off, or you can toggle the radio between stations. It can also be used figuratively to mean changing between two activities, such as talking on the phone and doing homework.

Toggles are heavily used in modern interfaces and can be thought of as glorified checkboxes. However, they are often made inaccessible, which makes them less user friendly.

When designing toggles, it is important to keep a few things in mind. For example, it is important to make them easy to read and understand. This means that the toggle should be clearly labeled and should utilize visual cues to indicate its state, such as movement or color. Additionally, it is important to ensure that toggles can be operated by all users, including those with vision impairments or other disabilities. This can be done by using high-contrast colors and utilizing state descriptors, which are words or phrases that explain what each toggle switch does.

Another thing to consider when creating toggles is that they should be easily manipulated by touch. This is because some users may not be able to use a mouse or keyboard and instead will need to interact with the toggle using their fingers. This can be accomplished by using a toggle that is designed to work well with touch.

Finally, it is important to remember that a toggle should not be used when there are other ways to achieve the same effect. For example, if you want to show a user a list of reviews on your website, it would be more appropriate to use a button than a toggle. The button can be clicked, which will then display or hide the review information. This will save the user time and will provide a more intuitive experience. For more information on designing accessible toggles, see this article by Adrian Roselli.