If anything, this 'challenge' will provide me both positives and negatives around Fluency which I can look to address in the future. Feedback is good :)
As long one of those options continues to be available.
The Fluency plugin will remain available, and will be updated regardless of the outcome of this challenge.
Having the sub-menus fly out to right, rather than open up downward both covers up part of the screen (maybe not a huge deal), but also breaks the ability to leave a commonly used menu left open all the time. That alone should be a deal breaker.
In defense of the flyouts, they are only there while your hovering over the menu, at which point you don't really need to see what underneath because you should be looking at the menu. I believe the ability to leave a menu expanded is irrelevant if the menu is show on hover, but maybe that's just me. "Deal breaker" might be a bit strong given that flyouts is how the current menu works when in 'collapsed' mode. My reasoning is here: http://deanjrobinson.com/wordpress/design-tweaks-28/
What would the buttons actually do? How would you display the Screen Options? You certainly wouldn't want to slide in like the current UI, they would be very inconsistent with a button.
They would do something like this: http://www.flickr.com/photos/deanjrobinson/3101608647/ hard to demonstrate everything with a single screenshot
the flyout menus will be terrible to use from mobile devices
yes, agreed, however I doubt the current admin is particularly nice to use on a mobile device either. Theres a reason why there is a native iphone app and numerous "iphone optimised admin" plugins.
also worth saying that there is no reason that the Fluency design can't have expand/contract style menus (like the current one) my mockups have flyouts simply because that what Fluency currently has.
Theres only so much you can knock together in a couple of hours, with additional time theres probably a bunch of things that I would/will change.
Keep the feedback rolling, keeps me thinking about ways I can possibly improve Fluency in the future.