Yesterday, the WordPress pattern directory went live to the world as the development team behind it put the finishing touches on the project. It will work similarly to the theme and plugin directories in time. Along with WordPress 5.8, users can browse and use block patterns directly from the post editor.
Officially, the pattern directory shipped as part of the WordPress 5.8 release. The Tavern did not include this in its coverage yesterday because it was still listed as an “in-progress” project until several hours later. The team was still wrapping up several issues yesterday for the initial launch.
The current patterns in the directory are a curated list of designs from over 20 volunteers. The team called upon the community in early June, and it answered. To date, there are over 70 patterns across six categories to choose from:
Thus far, translations are complete for 12 languages. Others are at varying completion percentages, but there are dozens more that are incomplete. This would be an easy entry point for anyone who wants to give something back to the WordPress project.
I had a hand in building the About Me Cards and Team Social Cards patterns, but I cannot take all the credit. Kjell Reigstad and Mel Choyce-Dwan took my initial ideas and ran with them. It was a rewarding experience just peaking a bit into how other designers work. I only wish I could have put in more time during the initial submission window.
I look forward to submitting more patterns when submissions are open to everyone, the project’s next phase.
“Work is now beginning on the next milestone, which will enable patterns to be submitted by anyone, similar to the Theme and Plugin Directories,” wrote Kelly Choyce-Dwan in the announcement.
I am excited to see where the overall community can take the directory. Submissions have been limited and held to a specific aesthetic that will not be universally appealing. It may be hard for some users to look beyond centuries-old artwork, flowers, and the current fling with offset columns to see how a specific layout would work for their site. For others, it is perfect.
Even I struggle with this. I can see the structure beneath the default images and text, but I am not inspired to use most of the patterns because they simply do not fit my personal style. When selecting one, I want to feel like the designer was building something just for me. I suspect that will play a part in winning over more users and bringing some holdouts over to the block system.
One limitation of the pattern directory is the imagery. Now that services like Unsplash, Pexels, and Pixabay have put limitations on their licensing, it can be tough to find photos and artwork that meet the guidelines for submissions to WordPress.org. However, that could open up a bit with the potential integration of Openverse, formerly the Creative Commons search engine. Making it easier for pattern designers to find the perfect images to build out their visions would improve the overall quality.
What will eventually make the pattern directory a worthwhile venture is when the best designers from the WordPress ecosystem step up and begin competing. I eagerly await a breadth of authors putting their own stylistic spin on submissions.
“I can see the structure beneath the default images and text, but I am not inspired to use most of the patterns because they simply do not fit my personal style. When selecting one, I want to feel like the designer was building something just for me.”
I sort-of get this, but it reminds me of what Mom says as we watch real-estate makeover shows together: “Why can’t people see beyond the furniture and photos?” It seems to be a common situation, maybe a skill that some have more than others.
I’m interested in testing these out.
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I just think people are going to be scrolling through dozens or maybe even hundreds of patterns. It can overwhelm the senses a bit with so many options. They’ll want something that sticks out without having to visualize how each would apply to their site.
For real estate, that’s something that I’d think you’d take a longer and harder look at. I just bought a new home last year, so I know what you mean. You have to really imagine what the place will look like beyond the surface, building that dream home in your mind.
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Good point about volume.
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Looking good. This is going to be a pretty messy showdown with builders the coming years. Specially the free/open vs. paid decisions will be come harder to win for builders. Until now it’s still a must to use a builder as doing Webdesign isn’t really an option in Gutenberg (more like content design). But this might just change… block patterns is certainly on the path of the atomic design principle.
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I am not a pro Gutenberg but I created my first page with it (thanks to Disable Gutenberg plugin). I was not very pleased by gallery rendering and I will certainly find some better pattern. Cool.
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My biggest problem with the directory is simple. It doesn’t work. I’ve tried copying from there and into a variety of themes – and most layouts seem to break. Stuff flows into sidebar, breaks main layout, has spacings totally different from that which is shown in the directory, etc.
I love the concept* but in practice it just doesn’t work.
(* I’m actually a bit worried about the concept of this AND the whole “let everyone edit everything” notion of Gutenberg in general. I’m all for freedom – but as an agency trying to keep brand on track, prevent clients breaking All The Things, there is too much room for clients to mess stuff up right now in WordPress. Am hoping we see more control over the coming months!)
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As a grassroots organizer without a budget for an agency, I am all for being able to edit everything. I do understand the concern of those who are making a living from WordPress, and different needs and priorities.
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Block patterns are only ever going to look as well as the active theme’s block styles. If the theme is not well-rounded enough to handle blocks in a variety of configurations, patterns will quickly fall apart. If blocks are flowing into the sidebar and breaking the main layout, it sounds like a theme issue.
Spacing will definitely be different from theme to theme. That’s to be expected.
As for making sure clients don’t just insert any ol’ pattern, I would just disable the core block patterns via:
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So can it be assumed that if we can disable the core block patterns, we’ll can enable a custom library of block patterns that we want a client to use for adding content to the site? Because that’s exactly what I’m looking for!
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Definitely. You can register custom patterns via a custom theme or plugin for clients and just disable the core ones.
Related: I also have an open ticket for an API hook to allow developers to load patterns via an external site too. I think it’s possible to do this with a bit of a hacky workaround, but there really should be a dedicated filter hook for it. This solution would be better for serving patterns to multiple clients from one source.
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