Find common solutions for recurring problems and a description of the context in which these solutions work best.
Pattern collections are found in online repositories and books focusing on certain topics (such as designing for mobile, or designing for the social web). Look for details about the context in which a pattern works best. Even when you intent to break the pattern, make sure you know what it is and what tensions it resolves for the user.
- A suitable pattern collection.
- A sensibility to follow good practice when appropriate.
- Creativity to innovate within the constraints set in the pattern.
Many designers use patterns implicitly, they adapt and 'remix' what they know intuitively to work well. Pattern languages explicate these intuitions into design patterns that in turn allow designers to expand their intuitions.
- There are many good pattern collections, for example published by O'reilly. E.g. Crumlish, Christian, and Erin Malone. Designing social interfaces: Principles, patterns, and practices for improving the user experience. O'Reilly Media, Inc., 2009.
- You also can find many of these online, for example: http://www.welie.com/patterns, or http://ui-patterns.com/patterns, or http://www.mobile-patterns.com/