I just went through a similar decision making process. Distros are huge in number & variety. The packages vary like no tomorrow. The more you read, the more confused you will get.
So, I figured I will start with a test install of Ubuntu as a stepping stone and then figure out which direction to go from there.
I installed Ubuntu lts 12 and 14 but its Unity UI leaves much to be desired for someone who needs to find their Apps without knowing or remembering their names; especially for someone new to linux.
I'd much rather have a Menu like Windows that shows a bunch of Apps that are installed and in addition categorized.
Also, i like the silver / light gray/ mid gray look of of Windows 2000 Classic shell and the Apple osx minimal whitish/ grayish/ silver color.
Given these parameters, I finally chose Mint [also based on Ubuntu] as I liked their 2 main popular desktop environments - Cinnamon & MATE.
Now, I was faced with the issue of choosing between them with their Pros and cons on many articles, blogs and forums online.
I figured I want both to play with so figured I will download .iso for one of them and install the other after. I wasn't sure which order would be easier or better.
I looked at their .isos & tutorials [for both ways] and figured its a bigger task to install Cinnamon than Mate.
So, I downloaded Mint Cinnamon 64 and will be adding MATE on it later and see how they both operate.
PS: Zori does claim to look similar to Windows, which caused me to look through it but found its colors a bit loud like the Windows XP, Vista, 7 world. I prefer a more muted, subtle look so for a clean looking interface I dropped Zori and went to Mint.