We implemented some of the suggested changes for a trial. These were relatively easy to accomplish--some of the other ideas are interesting as well but would take a bit more research on our part (if anyone has any suggestions about CSS coding etc, we're all ears.)
In case you didn't notice we changed most of the colors to the Solarized scheme which Doraemonster suggested, as well as his serif fonts.
We reduced the number of suggested topics to 5 and made them specific to the current forum.
This is still a work in progress, with a lot of possibilities, and we appreciate any and all feedback. Thanks!
Incidentally we noticed that zooming the page size on desktop (as with Ctrl +/- in chrome) gives a bit of a different look. I kind of like 110%.