In Gnome you can right click a menu item and add to desktop. Can't seem to find a just-as-simple alternative in Unity? Anyone know?
The only way thus far is to create a launcher on the desktop.
Example for Google Chrome
1 - Right click on desktop and select Create Launcher
2 - Give the application a name Google Chrome
3 - Enter the application command google-chrome
Now the icon for Google Chrome Appears on your desktop.
There's possibly an even easier way of doing this, but I'm unsure at the moment.
At the login page enter classic view and add icons to the desktop as required. When you next revert to unity view they will all be on the desktop.