When looking at a form element styled to look like a flick switch but that actually behaves like a clickable element, how likely is the user to realise that they can click the element to switch it, rather than use the much more cumbersome click - hold - drag - drop interaction that is implied by the fact it looks like a flick switch.

Has anyone examined this in tests to see how easily users work out that they can just click ?

http://lite.launchlist.net/ see this link for a good example.

EDIT ...

From the answers given I think that in some ways my question is unclear and the point has been missed. I'm not asking whether or not users can work out whether they can interact with it, or whether they can click it, but how easy is it for a user to work out they can click when the interface element doesn't look like something you click.

It would be good for example to know what % of users when faced with this interaction element attempt to click it to activate it rather than hold and slide it. I would hypothesise a very small % but would like to see what evidence there is for this hypothesis

  • 1
    That page has an interesting metaphore for the About button.
    – JOG
    Commented Oct 10, 2013 at 10:13
  • Launchlist should definitely implement real label elements for the checkbox labels so it can be toggled by clicking on the text (not just the little toggle).
    – Kit Grose
    Commented Oct 11, 2013 at 1:16
  • Total aside and probably personal quirk, but did the typeface on that site make the No's read like upside down On's for anyone else?
    – Zak
    Commented Oct 11, 2013 at 18:58
  • Another aside: I really don't like the finicky way you have to select "N/A", and actually missed it completely until I read the "WTF" text. Commented Oct 15, 2013 at 16:14

4 Answers 4


I say it depends on the styling of the flip switch i.e. does it seems 3 dimensional and what does the on state vs off state look like? Also think about context in relationship to other elements around it. For example if you had a group of these toggle switches and some of them were switched on and some of them were switched off than it will be more obvious to a user that these can be toggled. On the flip side of this if the toggle switch is alone it might be more difficult to allude to this fact.


Slide toggle switches are a replacement for a check boxes and like them they are clickable. But some only make the active part of the switch clickable where as the entire switch rather than the active half should be the clickable area. The slide interaction is mostly used on touch screens and is foreign to non-touch devices.

I complement launchlist for properly implementing them.

  • 1
    Yes I know what they are, but I'm interested in whether they encourage a more complicated interaction than a click which I think is relevant for both mouse and touch screen interaction, as a finger can also 'click' (tap)
    – Toni Leigh
    Commented Oct 10, 2013 at 7:57
  • Dan, surely you must agree that the mouse-over clue should match the entire clickable area?
    – JOG
    Commented Oct 10, 2013 at 11:00

In the mouse scenario, reacting on mouse over, is a good enough clue. That visual clue should response to movements over the entire clickable area.

In the tap scenario, I think that most first time users will try to flick it, and eventually learn that a tap will do.

The "dragging" part, when it follows the user's finger movement, instead of reacting directly on the touch-down only, hides its clickability, which hinders learning that a click is enough.


This switch design has been more or less lifted from iOS, and so I don't think many people will have a problem with it.

However, in the website you cite as an example, it's just eye-candy over function IMHO. The iOS version used skeuomorphism as the user actively and physically pushed the button. On a web site, which requires a click, this metaphor is meaningless at best, unintuitive at worst.

Check boxes have been popular for a long time for good reason.

  • One small observation: I know many web users who have never used iOS. Commented Oct 15, 2013 at 16:12

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