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1. It's the people with the most power that usually make the biggest design decisions, even if they don't think about design at all. Here's one interesting example.
2. The town of Missoula, Montana has a street plan that looks like this because two powerful people couldn't agree.
3. Originally two landowners, Bickford and Stephens aligned their grid system with the road that is now U.S. 93 that runs diagonally. They imagined an entire town called South Missoula, with this as the core.
4. But Judge Knowles owned land to the north and thought this plan was silly. First for the angles (which ignored the original section plan) but also because he didn't like the idea of "South Missoula".
5. Knowles got permission for his land to be annexed by Missoula, and installed a rectilinear grid (it's unclear how much land Knowles owned, this is a guess).
6, The power decision that sealed the fate for Bickford and Stephens and their diagonal love, was the building of a new bridge. Would it go on Stephens ave and support their plan (A)? Or go to S. Higgins, and line up with the square grid (B)?
7. The Higgins family, for whom the old bridge was named, preferred B. As did the Judge. And many of the people. All combined they were able to push the bond vote in their favor.
8. The end user consequences of this are well documented. Missoula is famed for it's "Malfunction junction" (a few blocks south of the diag/square conversion) - here is the recently *redesigned* version (prior a 4th ave joined here).
9. The lessons: first, powerful people often make choices early in a project that change the shape of all design decisions that follow.
10. second: the relationship between powerful people, good or bad, shapes what kinds of decisions they will make. If they collaborate, there is clarity. If they all want their own way, often everyone pays in some way.
13. third: allies often define who wins, rather than who is "right" or has the better design.

If Judge Knowles wasn't a friend of Higgins (the old bridge was named for him and he was a local hero), this might have gone a different way.
14. You can see parallels (pun intended) to this story in all sorts of products, apps and places. If two powerful people don't share goals, you get diagonals vs. square in your #UX.
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