Toggle is a term used to describe the act of changing between two opposing states, such as toggling between video chat and streaming or toggling between map and stream views in a mobile app. Toggles are a common interface component and when used well can make it easy for users to update their preferences or settings. However, when poorly implemented, these simple interface elements can cause significant confusion for users. When using toggles it’s important to provide clear and direct labels, use standard visual design and deliver immediate results.
A toggle can be designed with either a color or text to signify its current state. In general, text is more effective than color for signaling state change because it can be used in any font size and doesn’t rely on a single hue. When choosing a text color for a toggle switch, designers should consider the contrast between the current state and the active state as well as cultural and societal associations of specific colors.
The word toggle originates from the 18th century and was originally defined as a pin passed transversely through an eye or loop in a chain or rope, to bind it temporarily in place. It later became a name for a button with two positions, and eventually a verb to refer to switching between one thing and another.
Savvy teams view their Feature Toggle inventory as an asset with a carrying cost and seek to keep this inventory low by proactively removing toggles that are no longer needed. When testing toggles it’s important to test the toggle configuration that is expected to go live in production and to also test a fallback toggle configuration with all of the toggles flipped Off.