What Is a Togle?


The word toggle has been around for centuries – it was used for things like pins passed through the eye of ropes to hold them in place and more recently it’s been an adjective meaning “to switch or alternate,” such as when you toggle between two screens while video chatting with friends. In software, a toggle is a switch that has two states — on and off.

Toggles are used in a wide variety of web interfaces from ecommerce platforms to search engines and social media apps. While they’re often visually appealing, they can be cognitively confusing for users. The main issue is that toggles require the user to press a state — either on or off — and they don’t enforce a mutually exclusive state like buttons. So a toggle could be turned on but the underlying state of the system is still off, which can mislead users.

As a result of this confusion, many designers make toggles more readable by using colors to convey status (e.g. red = on, green = off). However, this reliance on color isn’t consistent with WCAG guidelines – and can be problematic for users with vision impairments who may not be able to see the colors at all.

Another problem with toggles is that if they’re implemented via static files it can be difficult to manage their configuration. In particular, if you’re running experiments with your feature flags it can be hard to test your entire experiment configuration as it requires manually modifying these files and then re-deploying them into the testing environment. This exacerbates the feedback loop issues outlined above and can significantly impact your ability to perform continuous validation. To alleviate these challenges, it’s a good idea to implement some type of centralized toggle configuration repository and a corresponding admin UI.