How to Design and Implement a Toggle Control
A toggle is a control that has two states (on and off). When users press a toggle it changes its state from one to the other. It is often used for controlling things like streaming videos, maps, or even games. They are also used to configure things like colors, fonts, padding, animations and much more. Toggles are heavily used in modern interfaces and can be a useful tool for managing complexity. However they can be tricky to use effectively if not designed and implemented correctly.
Toggles have many uses but it’s important to remember that they are only as useful as their context. In order for a toggle to be effective it needs to meet three conditions:
1. It should have a clear label that describes what the toggle does and when it is active. 2. It should be in a context where users expect immediate results. 3. It should be a toggle that is not required to have any additional actions such as clicking a button or saving a form to apply the new state.
The best way to achieve these requirements is to use a form element with the aria-pressed attribute. This is a great way to ensure that toggles are always visible and accessible for all users.
It’s also important to make sure that all of the toggle states are tested in your tests. This is especially true for things like Experiment Toggles. This allows you to test a release with both the current production toggle configuration and the fallback toggle configuration. This will allow you to compare how the new release performs with both paths and make data-driven optimizations.
Toggle configuration can be managed in a variety of ways, from simple but less dynamic approaches such as commenting in code through to more sophisticated approaches such as storing the toggle state in a centralized database. It’s important to choose an approach that works for your team, but the good news is there are a lot of options out there!
As with any tool, it’s important to use Feature Toggles sparingly. They should only be used when you really need their ability to quickly and consistently change behavior. Otherwise they can cause confusion and reduce usability.
It’s also important to understand that toggle switches can be inaccessible for users with accessibility requirements. This is particularly the case if you use colors to differentiate between states. For example 8% of men have red/green color blindness and so using green as the on state and red as the off state can be confusing for this group. If you must use a toggle switch, it’s important to use a well-defined label and to test with a screen reader to verify that it is accessible to your users. In some cases a button may be a better alternative to a toggle switch.