How to Design a Good Toggle

A toggle is a switch that has two positions, On and Off. It’s a common user interface component used for changing preferences, settings and other types of information. It provides a way for users to update these settings without having to make any changes to the application itself.

Toggle is a great tool for changing preferences or setting on mobile devices, where it takes less screen estate than a two-radio button. The main disadvantage is that toggles usually come with a default value (On or Off) and the user has to change it if they want a different state.

Good labels for toggle switches are essential for ensuring that they are easy to understand. They should clearly describe what the control is doing when it’s on, as well as what state it is in right now.

Color is also an important factor, as it is a visual signifier for whether a toggle switch is on or off. It should be a high-contrast color so that users can easily see whether it’s on or off. It should also be a consistent color across the entire app, or across different sections of the app.

The state descriptors on the toggle should be clear, especially for users who are familiar with these states and may have some prior knowledge of what they’re supposed to do. These state descriptors can be in the form of a simple text label or in the form of an image, like a screenshot.

Ideally, the toggle should be able to deliver results immediately, without needing the user to press or click any other button or action. This is particularly true of toggles that are used in forms that include other form fields.

Many toggles also have a configurable status loop, so they can be changed instantly by users in response to an event. This is particularly helpful when the result of the operation is critical for a user’s decision.

Removing Feature Toggles is a Savvy Team’s First Task

Most teams have rules for removing Feature Toggles that are no longer needed, usually with an expiration date in mind. Some also put “time bombs” on their toggles, which will fail a test if they are still around after that date has passed.

In-Memory Runtime Reconfiguration

One of the more dynamic approaches to managing a Feature Flag’s configuration is to store it in-memory rather than using static files. This approach is useful for a number of reasons, not least of which is that it allows the configuration to live side-by-side with the production configuration, meaning that any changes to the toggle will be automatically reflected in the production codebase.

This makes it easier to verify that a new release will behave exactly as expected, as well as reducing the likelihood of unexpected regressions in future releases. However, it is a relatively low-scale method of controlling the configuration of a Feature Flag and should only be deployed to automated tests or as part of exploratory manual testing and debugging.