How to Use Toggle Controls in Your Web Application

A toggle is a device that allows users to switch between two states, often without having to click something. This user-interface component can make a big difference in how your site or app works, but it’s important to choose the right controls for the job.

Toggle Labels

The labels on a toggle should be clear, direct, and easy to understand. They should describe what the control will do when it’s switched on and what state it’s in right now. It’s important to keep the total number of words as low as possible.

Color is also a good visual signifier for the state of a toggle. But it’s also important to consider societal and cultural differences when choosing a color for the switch.

Use high-contrast colors for toggles to help avoid confusion, and make sure that the colors are consistent with other visual elements in your system. Additionally, use state descriptors such as “On” or “Off” to provide further clarity.

Toggles are the best choice for changing settings or preferences on mobile devices, as they take less screen estate than a traditional radio button. However, it’s important to use them carefully and only when you really need to show users how to change a state.

Using Toggle Configuration

When you have a large scale deployment or feature flag system you’re going to need a way to dynamically re-configure toggles at runtime. This can be a bit fiddly if you’re working with files, and it can get quite complex if your toggles are in a centralized configuration store (like the app database).

If you’re going to use this approach it’s very important that your underlying infrastructure supports runtime configuration of feature flags. Otherwise you’ll have to restart your test process or re-deploy your artifacts each time you want to flip a toggle.

In some cases it may be necessary to re-configure toggles at the server level – like Ops Toggles. In these cases it’s often worth considering the use of a real distributed configuration system as discussed in this section.

Release Toggles

When you are developing or testing a new release, it’s wise to perform some tests with all of the current production toggle configuration flipped On and any toggles that you intend to release flipped Off. This can help reduce surprises when you roll out a new release.

Toggle UI

In most systems toggle switches are used to enable and disable different functions in the system. They are typically placed above or below a menu and allow the user to change a system’s state.

This is similar to the Caps Lock and Num Lock keys on a keyboard. In this case the keys have a default state, and you can switch them to another state by pressing them once.

A toggle is also the name for a pin, bolt or rod that is placed transversely through a chain, an eye or loop in a rope, etc. It binds something temporarily, as in a fastener.