The Concepts Behind Toggle
A toggle is a switch that is used to turn things on and off. It is commonly found in hardware such as keyboards (Caps Lock and Num Lock) and software (options menus). When a toggle is activated it does exactly what it says on the tin, turning the feature on and off. It is a very simple user interface element, but one that can have a significant impact on how users interact with an application.
The word toggle also refers to the act of switching between two states, such as video chatting with two people at the same time. Toggling is very common in our daily lives and it’s a core part of how applications work. This is why it’s so important to understand and use the concepts behind Toggle when designing user experiences.
Toggle switches provide a way for users to update their preferences, settings and other types of information. When used correctly, they can be a great tool for improving user experience. But when used incorrectly, they can create confusion and lead to frustration. To avoid this, consider these three conditions when using toggle switches:
The first condition is that the toggle must have a clear label. If a toggle has a label that doesn’t clearly indicate the current state, then it is not a toggle and should be replaced with a checkbox or radio button.
Also, the label must make it clear what the toggle will do when turned on. The toggle should never be labeled “default” or “on.” This is an easy mistake to make and it can cause a lot of user frustration.
Finally, the toggle must be able to be easily overridden during testing and validation. This can be accomplished with a variety of strategies ranging from simple commenting through to the use of preprocessor features like #ifdef. However, any method of modifying a toggle during runtime must be carefully thought through as it can severely impact the cycle time of your testing and validation processes. Having to restart an app to change a toggle configuration or to re-deploy a specific service instance in order to flip a toggle can be very frustrating for testers and will likely break the all important feedback loop that CI/CD provides. This is why savvy teams consider the creation of a feature flag as inventory that comes with a carrying cost and actively seek to reduce the number of toggles in their codebase. In some cases this is done by putting a task on the team’s backlog for every new toggle as it is introduced and even creating “expiration dates” for toggles that are no longer needed. This helps to keep the number of toggles to a reasonable amount.