Using Toggles in Web Design

A toggle is a small piece of wood or plastic which is sewn to something such as a coat or bag, and pushed through a loop or hole to fasten it. It is also used to switch between two functions of a computer or machine. The word toggle is derived from the verb toggle, meaning “switch or alternate.”

In Web design, a toggle (or toggle item) is an HTML element that allows users to choose between a pair of opposing states by using different appearances to indicate each state. It is used most commonly for “on/off” switches.

Toggles can be configured to change based on various criteria, including user interaction or the state of other related elements. Toggles can be applied to many different types of controls, but are especially useful for displaying checkboxes, radio buttons and select boxes. In some cases, they can be used to create more complex controls with multiple options such as multi-select dropdowns or radial sliders.

Feature toggles are transitional by nature and should not stay in place for long periods of time, although product-centric toggles may need to remain in place longer than other toggles. Generally speaking, they should be replaced by a new release version within a week or two once it is determined that the toggle is stable. This practice is known as blue-green deployment.

There are a few issues with using toggles, but most can be overcome by following some basic principles. One of the most important is ensuring that the toggles are correctly positioned. When placed incorrectly, the label can obscure the toggle or, in some cases, be completely hidden from view. This can lead to confusion for the user who is trying to select a specific option.

It is also recommended to avoid the use of text inside the toggle as it can cause problems. Instead, a graphic icon should be used to make it easier for the user to identify and select the correct option. The icon should be in the same color as the toggle so it is easy to recognize. Finally, it is important to ensure that the toggles are properly sized to avoid any overlapping of text and other visual elements.

Another issue is that toggles can be difficult to read when used on a dark background. Adding some contrast between the toggle and its surrounding elements can help with this, as well as using an appropriate font size to ensure that the text is legible.

There are a few additional problems with using toggles, such as the fact that they can break when used with dynamic content. This can occur if the toggle is clicked while the content it applies to is loaded later than the toggle itself. This can be solved by using an ifdef, but this approach is only suitable for features that are intended to have a short life and where the toggle configuration is static. Otherwise, the use of a toggle will result in a lot of if-else statements in the code and should be avoided.