Designing Toggle Switches

Togle (pronounced “tog-lee”) is a verb meaning “switch,” as in “toggles up or down.” It’s also a noun, and it’s used for buttons that toggle between two settings. It’s common to use toggle switches to switch between different options or preferences in software and hardware.

Toggle switches are typically used to adjust system settings or preferences, and they’re especially useful on mobile devices where they take up less screen estate than radio buttons. However, they can be confusing and can lead to user frustration if they’re not correctly labeled or designed.

When designing a toggle, make sure it looks like a slider and incorporates visual cues to help users understand its state. For example, it’s important to avoid using low-contrast colors and instead use high-contrast ones that signal a change in state.

In addition, labels for toggle switches should explain what the control will do when the switch is on and should be clear, not neutral or ambiguous. A label should say, for example, “Toggle to turn off the Airplane Mode,” not simply “Turn on or off the Airplane Mode.”

A toggle should be able to immediately display the new state, which means that it should not require the user to tap a button or submit a form. If a toggle takes time to process, it’s better to replace it with a checkbox or other similar control.

Another consideration for toggles is their placement on the screen. Toggle switches can be difficult to see in small screens, so they may not be the best choice for all situations. It’s usually better to place them lower on the page so they’re easier to read and use.

It’s also common to hide a toggle when it’s not needed, such as when a user has already selected a preference or setting. For instance, you can hide a toggle in the context menu on the bottom of an Android device to allow the user to change the default setting.

For web sites, toggles are useful for updating preferences and other settings. They also help minimize scrolling and allow visitors to find content that is relevant to them quickly and easily.

Experiment Toggles are a common method for conducting A/B testing on the behavior of software features and services. When implemented properly, these toggles can be used to send the same set of users down multiple codepaths and track the differences in behavior between them.

While this is a powerful tool, it can be tricky to deploy and maintain in production environments. This is because it’s often difficult to maintain consistency across a large fleet of servers and it’s very likely that an artifact will need to be re-deployed each time an update to toggle configuration needs to be pushed.

This can have a negative impact on your CI/CD cycle time, so it’s important to build an endpoint that allows dynamic in-memory re-configuration of feature toggles and their configuration. This can be done through a dedicated endpoint or via an integration between your toggle system and your existing application DB.