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.
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.