What is a Toggle?

Toggle is a term used in technology, computing, programming and communications to switch between two modes or states. Often it is a physical switch or button, but can also be a piece of software code that switches between two functions. Toggle allows us to easily enable or disable features in our applications, websites and products.

Many of us use toggles on a daily basis with apps such as social media, email and messengers. These toggles allow you to turn the features on or off and control the privacy settings.

The most common use of toggles is to control the display settings of an application or website. Toggle switches are a great way to give users the ability to change their display preferences without changing any underlying functionality or impacting performance. This is a good way to make the experience for all users the same, but also provide options for more advanced or power users to have greater customization.

Another popular use of toggles is to support dev teams as they write new features. Instead of creating a separate branch and waiting to release it, developers create a new toggle in their master codebase with the feature set to “On” or “Off”. The team can then develop their feature on this branch while still pushing changes into production on a regular schedule to meet delivery targets.

Lastly, toggles are an excellent tool for conducting A/B testing or multivariate testing. A toggle can be configured to consistently send a user down one code path or the other by querying an outside data source or service such as Kameleoon. This can be useful for comparing the effectiveness of call to action words, purchase flows in an ecommerce system, or even different layouts for a page.

There are some disadvantages to using toggles, and there are some cases where a button might be better suited. For example, if a toggle has multiple labels it can be difficult for users to understand which one they are currently pressing since the labels may not be positioned next to each other. This can lead to confusion and frustration for users if they keep trying to press the wrong switch.

Finally, savvy teams will regularly review their toggle inventory to ensure they are not keeping any dead features around. This is especially important in large codebases where it can be easy for a new feature to hide an existing one. To avoid this issue some teams will set a task in their backlog to remove toggles that are no longer necessary. Others will put “expiration dates” on their toggles so they will automatically fail a test or be manually disabled if they are still active after a certain time period. This helps to maintain a healthy toggle inventory and avoid accidental regressions.