In addition to the two bits of code that have saved me hours of searching in documention, I owe a big thank-you to Open Source Web Design. They collect hundreds of freely available designs (CSS and sample HTML files) which you can use or modify to suit your needs.
I am a fairly competent HTML programmer and was going to bang out my web site by myself (contrary to my own advice below, which was hire an expert: I just don’t have it in my shoestring budget). However, I’m not a designer: I’m barely competent enough to pick a color coordinating outfit in the morning, much less design an aesthetically pleasing website. I found a nice, bright, inviting site design available through the Creative Commons license (the author gets a little credit at the bottom of my site) which was about 90% of what I wanted in a site design.
The other 10% I can accomplish by myself: resizing to make it work at 800×600 (consumer/educational market = don’t target a large screen), add some image support to the sidebar for buy-it links, and reformat around the banner I had designed the other day.