Profile cards contain saved profile keys and profile values. You can use profile cards to assign standardized profile values to items across your website.
So you will use these to "profile" your content.
Pattern cards are used to map profile values to specific types of visitors and implement personalization rules (as you noticed).
You typically use pattern cards to:
- Implement personalization rules based upon one or more pattern cards
- Define engagement plan steps that take effect when a visitor's behavior matches the pattern card
When a visitor navigates through a website, the profile values of all the pages and resources that they request are accumulated. Sitecore calculates the average score that the visitor has accumulated for each profile and maps the visitor to the pattern card that is the closest match.
A visitor can only be mapped to one pattern card at a time. However, as a visitor navigates through your website, the pattern card that they are mapped to can change as they interact with different items and resources.