Management of information for a live game is all about foresight and planning. It's easy to design something pretty when you first launch; it's far more difficult to design something that will remain elegant in the face of problems that haven't even happened yet. I believe strongly in building extensible systems instead of one-off solutions—solving problems upfront always pays off down the road.
To this end we devised a strategy for fitting all of our information in by content and frequency of use, as well as aesthetics. I also believe in the strength of conventions. We explored setting the social game UI world on fire with out-of-the-box ideas (contextual neighbor bar on the side, on-board neighbor bar, etc) but in the end we stuck with a fairly standard format for the simple reason that users already understood it. We made huge improvements (TKTKTKTK) in specific areas we cared about, instead of trying to reinvent the wheel. Sometimes optimization is better than revolution.