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An open letter to landlords

This article was originally published here.

Dear Landlords,

Renters don’t want carpet anymore. In fact, for many of us, it’s an actual dealbreaker. If you put in the rug, we’re gonna run.

At Block, we’re intently listening to what renters want and need to thrive so that we can help them find a get a great place to rent. In addition to the features and amenities our users tell us they want, we also anonymously analyze their behavior on the platform to learn.

For example, an apartment listing that has visible carpet in its featured photo will be given a thumbs-down 40% more often than those that don’t show the carpet right away (even if there’s carpet in the unit). …

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Photo by 毛 祥 on Unsplash

If you’re a renter and you’re thinking about moving: sign up for Block. We’d love to have you on the platform. This post originally appeared on our blog.

Why We Started Block

Every year, over a hundred million American renters look for a new place to live. …

Here, my darling children, is what we stand for, and why.

“…What rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?”
from “The Second Coming” by William Butler Yeats

My Darlings,

Today is 20 January, 2017. Your mom made oatmeal. We read the Space Child’s Mother Goose. Henry, you wanted to know about Saturn’s rings, and when your sister cried out for lack of attention, you trilled your tongue to make your dinosaur sound until she laughed. Nellie, you’re watching everything with those big blue eyes like a little owl in the most interesting thicket in the world.

I adore your curiosity, but on this day of all days I wish you wouldn’t linger so long on me as I check my phone for news. Maybe it’s my imagination, but I swear you understood completely when you watched your mother scroll the headlines and slam her computer closed a little too hard. …

And it’s deeper than Photoshop vs. Sketch.

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As product designers, we navigate complexity for a living.

But as I’ve progressed in my career, and as I’ve worked on bigger teams and on more complex projects, I’ve realized that there is a lot of pain and lost productivity on a really simple, ugly, boring process problem: how we manage assets.

The best, most organized designer fails at this often. …

I am on the product design team at Fullscreen, which is one-third of the greater Product, Design, and Engineering (PDE) organization. We have many talented and intelligent people on our team, and we’re growing fast.

The risk of any organization growing fast is that it grows incorrectly. This can mean failing to welcome and culturally assimilate new hires, which can degrade company culture. It can also mean hiring the wrong balance of people. In nature, good growth is called adolescence; bad growth is called cancer.

Our design team needs to grow to keep up with the blistering pace of development at Fullscreen. So HR tasked us with writing job descriptions and formally posting job listings for newbies on our team. …

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It was an exhausting weekend. [Sample of 1st phase of typeface redesign, only caps.]

“Type hides its methods.” —Matthew Carter

This last weekend was a hurricane of research, math, pixel-pushing, and coffee.

As I wrote last week, I’ve never designed a typeface before. So I’m setting out to document the creation of my first typeface over the course of 40 days. The documentation will hopefully be a useful, Google-able guide to typography for beginners.

Let’s first talk about the font specimen that brought me here. I’ve spent a great deal of time this weekend trying to coax out its secrets and figure out what about it I’m drawn to.

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If only permitted a two-second glance, I’d be enamored with this typeface because it feels so squarely mid-century to me. It has the vibe of Futura, even a touch of the authority of Gotham. But after the two-second mark—after I made like Sherlock Holmes and busted out the loupe tool, a few things jumped out. …

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A sample of the typeface I’m going to be scrapping and starting from scratch. I hate this. I’ve redesigned this masthead 10 times using better fonts, but part of this experiment is about embracing discomfort.

Yesterday was the first day of forty in which I am designing a typeface. That might not sound particularly groundbreaking, except for the following information:

  1. I am bad at finishing side projects, and I want to improve
  2. I have been “designing” this typeface for about 2 years already, and I’m going to scrap it and start from scratch
  3. I’m going to document my learnings as best I can, which will force me to write more [see item 1]
  4. I’m going to do it in public
  5. When I’m done, I’m going to release it for free

All the background you need on the font is this: a couple of years ago, a friend of mine found a vintage restaurant menu and wanted my help identifying the typeface used in it. After a good bit of research, we couldn’t identify it and guessed that it most likely was a pre-digital typeface that didn’t make the transition. …


Nick Dazé

Founder and CEO of Block. Fanatical about making the world better for renters. Product Designer and Entrepreneur.

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