What is a Toggle?

October 22, 2023 by No Comments


Toggle is a small piece of wood or plastic that’s sewn into something like a coat or bag, and pushed through a loop or hole to fasten it. It’s also the name of a switch found in computers and some other machines that allows you to switch between two functions, like the one that turns your Caps Lock on and off. Toggle is a word that’s been around for a long time, but it didn’t enter the OECD’s list of official words until 2023.

Toggles are useful when the underlying business logic behind an option is fairly straightforward and doesn’t change much on a per user basis (which is why you don’t see them used in navigation menus). They’re also great for things that need to be switched on or off for all users at once (such as enabling a feature for everyone).

A common misuse of toggle switches is turning them on for downloads, which is an action that only happens once and then ends. This is a bad use of toggles because it creates the impression that you can keep downloading content even after you’ve turned off the switch, which confuses users.

Another important consideration when designing toggles is their accessibility. As a general rule – and it’s reinforced in WCAG 1.4.1 – don’t rely on only color to convey meaning. For example, a red toggle for active and gray inactive is confusing to users with red/green color blindness.