I strongly believe that even a web design dummy can produce a quality web page layout and design. That's if they:
- Care enough to do it right
- Learn to use the right tools
- Most important: know their limits, and use this to their advantage
Heck, it's so easy I'm going to tell you an easy way right now.
WordPress and Thesis, a winning combination
You have a lot of choice when it comes to both the approach and tools to construct a website. Frankly, if you try to master them all, you'll never get started. Your efforts will be futile, and you'll lose all your friends (not really.)
I recommend WordPress. It's a popular platform for good reason. Plus it's free, breaking one of the rules of the Universe — being both free AND good — which is damn impressive.
Now, while WordPress is clearly awesome, you need to understand that it is mostly a "back-end" tool. What? Well, it handles the stuff out-back, those bits that are invisible to both your web visitors and search robots. So using WordPress alone won't grant your wish of high quality page layout and design. No, that job is done by the "front-end," which in WordPress World is called the "theme."
Your "theme" plays a very crucial role in WordPress. Its job is to retrieve (via WordPress,) your content from "out-back," and wrap it in HTML (the mark-up language of the web.) It'll also apply CSS code, which styles your web page elements to produce the end result that your site visitors see. As such, your "theme" has a very important, and very influential role, in the quality and design of your website.
The very structure of your pages is built with your chosen theme, and naturally this is what the search engine bots get to crawl … so it better be built well.
WordPress includes a theme to get you started, and it does a pretty good job of "drawing" your web pages for the world to ogle at, and search engines to rank. However, we want to go better than that. So while most will stick with a free theme, you'll knock em' dead if you don't.
See, we're on a mission to build a website you can be proud of, irrespective of design talent (or lack thereof,) and we want to do it without fuss. By knowing our limits, we won't waste time hoping a free theme is coded to high standards, or attempt to adapt its design to do what we want. We are smarter than that. And we won't dare test the Universe again by expecting free things to always pay off. Ah … so we'll invest in a professional theme, coded by someone whose passion is to create, maintain, and support this most important part of your website.
While there are many premium themes, I can tell you from personal experience that Thesis is especially hard-to-beat. It has about the best support of any theme you can buy today, plus it's definitely one of the cleanest. Most themes assert a certain look onto you, whereas Thesis goes the other way. As such, it is an excellent choice for any so-called design dummy.
Once you're up and running, my advice is to be constantly aware of your own design limits before carrying out any customisation.
My greatest graphic design strength lies entirely in awareness of my own limitations.