I recently borrowed a drift boat from a friend to take my dad on the McKenzie. The drift boat is, of course, a McKenzie drift boat and it’s a thing of beauty to drift with. It made my dad happy to be in a McKenzie drift boat rowed by his son on the McKenzie with his grandson along for the ride.

I’ve had an itch to build a boat for years. I’ve mentioned before the boat I built as a kid and the single epic day that I had it on the water. My dad’s wisdom kept me from using it more and getting myself in a lot of trouble. I’ve had the desire to build again since then.

But this past week, something switched. It was similar to the feeling of a deadbolt sliding into the receiver, or the thud of a large book on the floor. Solid. Confirmed.

I’m going to build a drift boat. And it may take a while, but I don’t care. Because I will finish it. And I’m excited for the entire process.

Building a boat is a romantic process. The craft and beauty of something SO purpose driven. Drift boats only do a few things really well, but those are magical to experience. I took my wife and all three kids down a section of the river a few days later. It’s a particularly twisty section. I could park the boat in the middle of a rapid, change directions and choose a different path. All while the family lounged in comfort.

It’s like using any beautifully designed tool. Using something designed for only a few things and doing those few things really well. It allows you to completely focus on what is happening and getting the most out of the tools. The tool disappears and the moment becomes something more than using a tool, it becomes a joy.

Of course this has implications for me as a designer and developer. Coming away from this experience I’m even more convinced that my products need to be simple and transparent. I must create a tool that disappears and the experiences of life become the focus. By being deliberate and keeping it simple, the experience becomes more than my app, it becomes the user’s life.

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