Since I can remember, Slashdot always had its same old look. It’s not bad and it’s certainly a trademark. But, in a sense, I believe it also made it look a little deprecated. Now, with the ferocious competition from Digg, Reddit and friends, I guess CmdrTaco and his gang finally decided to do away with the ancient design. So they held a contest for it, offering a laptop along the way.
Personally, I think that instead of hiring some design firm (which could undoubtedly come up with some awesome modern design), it was clever of them to ask the community to redesign the site for them, effortlessly picking the best of the bunch.
Turns out the best is an awesome face lift, which preserves every bit of the so-called trademark, but lends it a totally refreshed and slick look at the same time. The best of both worlds, I say. This is a perfect example of how small (but deep) changes can make a world of a difference when it comes to designing for the web.