Common Problems With Toggles and Tips For Avoiding Them
A toggle is a switch that lets people manage the state of something. Unlike radio buttons and checkboxes, toggles have two opposing states: on and off. They are used to control the state of settings, views, and content.
Toggles can be a great tool for achieving the goal of dynamically configuring feature flags at runtime in a production environment. However, if you’re not careful, using them to override the default behavior of a system can cause pain for users. In this article, we explore some of the common problems with toggles and offer some tips for avoiding them.
Using toggles as a way to perform multivariate or A/B testing is a common practice in the web industry. Toggles allow us to consistently send each user down one of several code paths based upon their cohort grouping.
The word “toggle” can also mean to bind or fasten temporarily. For example, you might toggle a rope into an eye or loop in a chain, so that it stays secure without requiring the use of a knot.
When to avoid using toggles
It’s important to use toggles sparingly as they can create accessibility challenges for some users. Screen readers and other assistive technologies can’t interpret a toggle’s states by color alone, so they must rely on other visual cues. Additionally, WCAG 1.4.1 discourages relying on color to convey meaning. It can be difficult for designers to find the right visual clues, especially if the toggle doesn’t clearly identify the setting or view it controls.