One of the most frequent things someone says when creating something using WordPress is I ‘want it like this’. They look at a site and want something, but then they are stuck. The ‘how’ seems far, and the chasm across implementation is vast. Creating is just too complex, and often the end result is one of those cake shows where the end result is nothing like what the intended caterpillar cake was at the start. Patterns unlock the magic of ‘making it like that for so many more. That’s empowering and something incredibly significant in the shift of usability.
That first paragraph sounds quite grand, but honestly, something is compelling in the concept of patterns. Blocks are great, don’t get me wrong. However, they are granular. Granules are excellent, but you don’t want to pick up each grain of sugar; you want a sugar lump or a bag of sugar. I am a little flippant in illustrating the point of how granularity isn’t always best.
Blocks also are the way we create from a code view, not typically how someone thinks of a design. When someone thinks of a design, who isn’t a designer, they tend to think of it more as a whole or at least in larger sections. They don’t break it down into tiny details. They want ‘that’, and ‘that’ is typically a pretty large section copied over.
Those of us that use the editor a lot presume that finding and combining blocks is a fairly low friction task. It’s actually not. There are so many points of choice and doubt along the way. So many places where you have to feel trust, that you know what does. Even simple forms like combining 2 blocks often aren’t something unless given a tutorial many might without time to explore consider. That’s also a point here, we have had time to learn the space, grow used to it. Many don’t and shouldn’t have time. They are using it as a tool to create and it needs to function to earn.
Patterns are a boost to productivity. You can lay your content out in patterns, then add it, curate and go. That’s a fantastic way to start thinking about your site itself. You could bring more variety to your content and even unlock the power of really impressive art direction in your content that before felt unachievable unless you had access to someone to create for you. As everything is a block, it’s also straightforward to dive into the pattern and start using it.
One aspect of patterns that isn’t maybe always considered is their portability. Because they are made of blocks, you can just like blocks, copy them and take them anywhere you want. This means you can share them across sites with a simple copy and paste. How cool is that?
Patterns truly are empowering, and I’d go as far as to say I think they will be potentially more impactful for users than blocks. A block is excellent, but the true power comes when you combine blocks. If you then have that all in one portable package of a pattern, curated with care by someone – that’s true content empowerment. That’s the ability to ‘make it like this’ with a browse in a directory and adding to your editor. That’s the power of patterns.