Designing Feature Toggle Switches
Toggle is a term that means “switch or alternate.” It’s found in almost all software and hardware where there are options menus. It’s also an important concept in human-computer interaction.
When designing toggles, keep in mind that you’re putting yourself and your users in a situation where they will have to make decisions about which settings are on or off. This is a very difficult and frustrating task, especially if you’re working on a large system that has a lot of different types of settings or preferences to work with.
You can get a little creative with toggle switches to make them stand out, but keep in mind that you want to avoid confusion about the toggle’s state. You can do this by using color and movement in the switch itself.
One way to do this is by making the switch change position as a user changes the setting. Another way is to label the switch’s state with something like “On” or “Off.”
While you’re designing your toggle switch, be sure it’s positioned appropriately for how it’ll appear on screen. This means the button should look like a slider and use visual cues such as color and motion to make it obvious which way you’re changing the state.
It’s also important to use a high contrast color when the switch is on or off, as some people associate the color red with stop signs or stop lights. If you’re creating a toggle for an international audience, be sure to use a language that is culturally appropriate for your target population.
Feature Toggles are an easy and effective way to experiment with new ideas for your product, and can help your team ease into a culture of testing and improving the experience. They’re also an excellent way to encourage a collaborative team-building process, as everyone can contribute their ideas for improvement.
Toggle configuration can be managed in several ways, ranging from hardcoding the toggle settings in static files through to a more sophisticated approach which can be used in conjunction with a real distributed configuration system. Some organizations choose to manage toggle configuration in a centralized store, while others rely on static files and hardcoding in order to maintain the flexibility and consistency of the toggle’s configuration.
Static Files and Hardcoding
A common approach to managing toggle configuration is to put the toggle settings in static files, which can then be read into a shared application database where they can be managed by system operators, testers or product managers. This can be a very simple approach, but it has a few drawbacks, particularly when dealing with large, distributed deployment environments where ensuring toggle configuration is consistent across all servers becomes increasingly difficult.
This type of approach can become very fiddly over time, which is why many organizations are moving to a more centralized configuration system. These systems usually provide a web-based admin UI for the system operator, tester and product manager to view, modify and manage toggle configuration.