What Is a Toggle?

A toggle is a switch that allows you to turn something on or off. It is often used in technology, computing, programming and communications. Feature toggles are useful for testing new features and settings with real users before integrating them into the production codebase. They help avoid costly regressions and enable agile development processes.

They’re especially helpful when testing a feature that requires users to choose between two different options. This way, you can see how users react to each option without having to ask them directly.

Toggle switches, also known as radio buttons or checkboxes, are a type of user interface element that allow you to easily change a setting or mode. They are common on websites and mobile applications. In addition, toggles can be grouped together to create an accordion or collapsible list. This makes it easy to view a large amount of information in a small space, and can be a good alternative to scrolling. However, they can be difficult to use for people with visual disabilities. WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) recommends using toggles with explicit labels, and making sure the toggle is visible enough so that users can tell what state it is in.

Typically, a toggle is represented by an icon that is either a solid color or a checkmark. The color is used to identify the current state, and the checkmark indicates that the toggle is checked. When a toggle is clicked, it changes states and displays the opposite icon. In this way, the user can easily determine what state the toggle is in, even if they don’t remember its original state or don’t see the checkmark.

Another purpose of toggles is to hide content from users. They can be placed on a page or article to block off certain parts of the site from users, such as spoilers or dynamic content that loads later in a browser. This way, users can get a better experience and not be distracted by content that they don’t need.

Toggles can also be used for A/B testing. By placing a toggle on an existing software system, the engineering team can bucket all users into one of two groups. The group that has the toggle turned ON will receive the new version of the software, while the other group will continue to use the original. Then, the engineers can observe how each group performs and can make data-driven optimizations based on their findings.

As mentioned above, it’s a best practice to name each toggle uniquely. This helps everyone on your team quickly understand what the toggle is and its role in the overall architecture. This will also be helpful in troubleshooting if the toggle is ever broken. In these cases, knowing the name of the toggle will allow the developers to track down what caused it to break and fix the issue.