I’m a big fan of GNOME as well. Although configurability is important, starting from a basis of opinionated design leads to better results, I think.
There are people who’re used to the traditional desktop, taskbar at the bottom, application menus, desktop icons and alike. There are minimalists who build their desktops essentially from scratch using tiling or floating window managers. Then there people who don’t really care about what they’re using and they tend to stick with whatever came with their system. I’m neither one of those (or at least, not anymore). I happen to agree with Gnome’s opinionated desktop philosophy…
I keep coming back to Gnome and it never ceases to amaze how quickly I can start being productive in it. That’s what a desktop is supposed to do, get out of your way as much as possible while providing great features to facilitate that. It’s very much opinionated about its design and experience, but you shouldn’t fight it. Learn to embrace Gnome for what it is, a beautiful, if somewhat different desktop for developers and regular users alike.