Using Toggle Controls in Your Web Application

A toggle is a switch that allows you to change between two different states or options. It is commonly used in technology, computing, programming, and communications. Using toggles in your application can help you test new features with a subset of users before they go live for the whole audience. This way, if a feature doesn’t work out, you can roll back to the previous version without needing to redeploy the entire application.

In addition to a clear description of the current state, toggles should be visually distinct from other controls on the page. This ensures that the user doesn’t mistake the toggle for another control with the same function (such as a radio button). Toggle controls also come with a pre-selected default state – ON or OFF. This is a good design principle to follow, since it prevents confusion by letting users know exactly what the toggle does.

Toggles are the best choice for changing system settings or preferences that can be either ON or OFF. It’s also the preferred way to change a setting on mobile since it takes less screen space than a checkbox or radio button.

However, the challenge with toggles is that they are inherently confusing. Because toggles don’t contain any text, they rely on other visual cues to convey the current state. And when designers rely on color to indicate the state of the toggle, they run into issues that can lead to cognitive overload. For example, using green for ON and red for OFF can be confusing because not all people have red/green color vision deficiency.

The other problem with toggles is that they often require users to make a decision before they can see the result. This is particularly true of toggles that control functionality that is hidden by default and needs to be enabled before it can be accessed.

One of the best ways to combat this issue is to use the proximity principle when designing toggles. Essentially, you should place the toggle as close to the action that it will affect as possible – this will make it easier for users to understand what the toggle is doing.

Aside from the proximity principle, it’s important to note that toggles should be designed with accessibility in mind. As with other Web components, toggles must be accessible to users with various disabilities. This means they need to be clearly labeled, have a consistent shape, and use consistent icons that are easy to recognize.

Besides the obvious accessibility benefits, toggles are an effective tool for continuous development. Feature toggles allow your engineering team to experiment with new features in a live environment before deploying them to your entire audience. They can also act as circuit breakers during high load times by temporarily disabling non-essential features. You can then remotely rollback the toggle to the previous state for any affected users. If you’re interested in leveraging the power of toggles in your application, please visit Kameleoon and sign up for our beta program!