This might be very outside the scope of what you want for suggestions but I thought it was worth adding. For XF1 we used the Staff Room Unread addon (https://xenforo.com/community/resources/rt-staff-room-unread.2212/) to add some counters to our mod bar. We also removed the text and just had icons. That's basically a link to the ACP and 3 pre-defined forums with their associated unread counts. I got the impression (https://xenforo.com/community/threads/xenforo-2-0-discussion.79603/post-1090816) that this might be possible just by styling now without the need for an addon but I'm not 100% sure.