Well props to you on a very well thought out post. I am in exactly the same situation as you and am too just a persistant & enthusiastic designer.
As far as I can tell the shortcodes allow you to embed specific areas of your forum onto specific pages, so for example if you had a support forum – you could add that to the forum submenu on your website and send people directly there.
Of course once they start navigating via the forum links they aren’t going to be sent to your embedded pages so I’m not sure I would like this solution myself as it seems inconsistent.
I’m a newbie too so will be keeping an eye on this thread, good luck