What Is a Toggle?

Toggle is a feature that allows you to easily switch between multiple states or options. It is commonly used in everyday technology devices and applications to enable or disable different features and settings. Toggles are also common in programming, where they are used to represent the state of a program. Toggle can be used for a variety of things, from switching between logging modes to turning on and off plugins in software programs.

While toggles are great in some situations, they can be a bad design choice for others. For instance, toggles can be confusing when the current state isn’t obvious to users. This is especially true if designers use low-contrast colors for their toggles, or if they don’t consider societal or cultural differences. Toggle icons should be large enough to be visible to users, and should be clear and unambiguous as to what they signify. Moreover, designers should avoid using color to indicate a toggle’s state—there are WCAG guidelines that explicitly forbid the use of only color to communicate meaning—and should instead rely on other signifiers like shape or action-oriented text.

A toggle can also cause problems if it’s not well-maintained or maintained correctly. This can happen when a toggle is left open for too long, or when it’s enabled and not disabled when needed. In these cases, toggles can become a source of frustration for users and may make them leave the site or application altogether. To prevent this, designers should always be sure to test toggles on their target audience before releasing them to production and to keep them updated regularly.

Toggles are great for testing new features with a small subset of users before rolling them out to the entire user base. When a toggle is turned on for beta testers, they will be able to see the effect of the new feature in their environment and provide feedback about it. This can help engineers catch bugs and improve the final release of a feature.

When a feature is deployed to production, toggles can be used as a circuit breaker in case of latency issues. By temporarily disabling non-essential features with toggles, engineers can ensure the most critical functions are working at all times. This will reduce the amount of time spent debugging and will help maintain consistent latency for all users.

Toggle configuration is typically stored in static files or within an existing application DB. This can be cumbersome when it comes to modifying these toggles at scale, and managing consistency across the fleet of servers. To combat this, many organizations choose to build out some form of admin UI that lets developers, testers and product managers view and modify toggle configuration. This can be done through a custom widget, or by integrating with existing software tools such as code management systems.