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New to Android (from iOS): help with notifications....


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I just got a Samsung S4 (Verizon) because I was tired of Apple's stagnant OS and tiny screens.  And I'm a tinkerer, so I'm loving (sort of) the endless ability to change and modify just about everything. And LOVE the big screen (and I have no problem whatsoever putting it in my pocket or using it one-handed...).
I'm encountering a couple of Android frustrations and wondering if anyone can either confirm, "yep, that's how it works", or point me to an app/widget/utility that "fixes" what I'm encountering.
Thanks in advance for your advice.
Notifications and status bar: I have to say I'm missing Apple's red badges that easily call attention to new emails, facebook posts, text messages, etc).  I understand that on Android, all notifications show up as those little teeny, tiny white icons in the status bar, amongst the sea of other little white icons (wifi, gps, gestures, bluetooth, etc), making it not always obvious at a quick glance what's new.
I understand swiping down gives me the list of all notifications. But strangely, for such a customizable interface, evidently you have little control over the appearance and order of what's there. For instance, the "ongoing" notifications of WiFi connected shows up at the top, which I dont want to know about at all (along with those from other apps that merely announce the app is working, such as Juice Defender). And others follow in a long list with no particular organization or visual distinction. 
I have played with the app SuperStatus Bar to reduce the status bar clutter, but it grinds things to a halt and takes over the notification panel without improving it. I've looked for widgets that show email, sms, etc badges but most are ugly (like most of the email widgets that come with the popular email apps like K-9, Aquamail, etc) or don't function consistently (like Notifier Widget for Facebook).
So, any suggestions or apps that help with this? And thanks to all who have read this all the way to the bottom...


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