It does take a little getting used to. I still tap Super to bring up the Dash and then start typing away, but for casual browsing, well, I'm hoping there are improvements to be made. :) I don't think Unity is confusing at all. In fact, after using it for about two months I really enjoy it--although I really did have to give it a try and it's only been the last 3 weeks where it's really felt solid.
I don't see anything wrong with the GNOME 2 desktop with panels, but between Unity and GNOME Shell I definitely greatly prefer Unity. But what I'm most grateful for in Linux is that the desktop environment and window managers are all decoupled from each other and the OS itself so that we really do have as much choice as we're willing to configure.