Ok, it's been a while... Time for some replies.
I don't really like the arrows on mouse-over. It defeats the whole point of the changing the GUI! People's justification over changing the GUI was that it was not easy to distiguish the type of buttons. the arrows solve that for those buttons so I'd rather they where there all the time.
You're right. As a midway compromise, right now I've got it with arrows always displayed, but lighter then before so it's not so noisy. The arrows get darker on mouseover. It's a bit hard to get the effect from a static screenshot, but it's a nice subtle feedback when you're moving the mouse around the screen. Gives more of an impression of activity and interactivity, that these arrows mean something and will do something.
Another thing which I'm finding annoying (with the arrow buttons, is that they seem to have much stronger gradient. The background is also too dark to have black text on. I would rather arrows all the time but then have the actual colour and gradient like the regular buttons.
To solve the arrow problem maybe you could have a smaller flat box on top of the button which represents the text and keeps the text within it.
This is a tricky one. Incidentally, this is a bit similar to what I was thinking of when I first made some early mockups in Photoshop way back in June. One of the things I've been trying to communicate is the non-standard (yet very useful) way that Blender's number fields work.
I haven't pursued with that number field design because there are a number of problems with it. It makes it look like there are 3 individual buttons (which there aren't). To implement it this way, it would take a bit of re-doing the way that the numbuts work so that only clicking on the 'arrow' parts would increase/decrease (which is less functional - fitt's law -> larger targets = easier and faster to hit), and would mislead regarding the 'drag to increase/decrease' functionality. Going to a design like this would mean lesser functionality and efficiency in the buttons, which isn't something I want to be doing. I like the efficient way the current buttons work, I just want to communicate it better.
Anyway, going through my thought process, on one hand, you have number fields in most other UIs, which are basically the same as normal text fields. Enter a value with the keyboard and that's it. These are generally displayed as recessed flat rectangles. On the other hand, there is the interactivity aspect of Blender's buttons which should be communicated too (especially since when you single-left click on a num button, it doesn't edit the value manually, but increase/decrease).
So in the current Blender, you have the number field looking like a normal button, which makes it seem more interactive, yet it doesn't communicate the 'click to increase/decrease' functionality well at all, and it doesn't look like a field that you can edit yourself. However if we go to the other extreme and make it look like a standard flat recessed rectangle, then it doesn't communicate any of the interactivity, and creates incorrect expectations when people click on it and expect to be manually editing the value.
What I've tried to do is create something taking parts of both approaches. It's recessed like normal number fields rather than sticking out on a button, which hopefully gives the impression of an editable value. But at the same time, it's shaded slightly (looking a bit like the buttons) which would hopefully imply interactivity, that it's different to a standard number field. Although it's recessed, it's not to the same extent as a pressed button (dark+white text), so the user is aware that it's not the same as that either. Anyway, in the latest version I've got, I've taken down the contrast of the shading a bit. Perhaps it could be made a little bit lighter - I personally don't have a problem with the way it currently is, but perhaps people with worse eyesight may want a bit more contrast. Feedback? I don't want to make the text white, because then it conflicts with the pressed (activated) buttons.
When I see this sample, I think it looks great (except for the problems mentioned above vis-avis the bf: 0:500 button) But when I had the whole interface in front of me it came across as clutter.
The layout will need to be changed and revised and revised in due time (if I have my way, into something more 'collapsible
' and less cluttered). Right now I'm just looking at the buttons themselves so don't worry