I really want to invest some time learning how to swap openlayers tiles with custom designs. seems awesome, but most of the examples are for google maps.
I have actually done the reverse in most cases on this site - use openlayers interface, with google maps layers. I believe the one exception is the front page global cost of living map. It needed a bunch of variable depended overlays - google documentation was easier in my opinion.
the data organization on this site is pretty great. Ive already opened up some internal api access to other sites of mine. once its a little more ironed out I will open it up publicly.