I used to play around with websites, and, as I said, my partner and I cranked out out first one without any help. And it wasn't bad. But it's not representative of what I want to project.
I'd be willing to wager that if you showed me 50 websites, half done from scratch by skilled professionals and half by their owners, using templates, I'd be able to pick out the homegrown products a large percentage of the time. When I was looking for a designer, I eliminated half of them because all of their sites looked so similar, and that, to me, meant that they were just plugging new content into old skeletons. They'd had their one or two ideas, and weren't going to consider my little project individually.
And by the time I finished buying all those peripheral programs, and invested the time to learn how to use them, I'd still be an amateur, and still be making a financial mistake. Let me pay someone to do what they're trained to do, so that I can do the same. People pay me a lot of money to use my skills; my partner and I each have spent over 20 years cooking in first-rate kitchens in New York, and it shows.
After all, how would I feel if I heard my clients saying, "Well, I'll just buy a couple of cookbooks and go to the market myself. Who needs to pay all that money to the caterer?" When I see someone working at his craft, chef, dentist, lawyer, teacher, auto mechanic, gardener, taxi driver, I can tell if he's well-trained and good at his job.
The old French chefs had a test for a cook who came to the back door looking for work: they'd give him an onion, some eggs and butter and a saute pan and a knife, and tell him to make an onion omelette. In a few minutes, the quality of the man's work was apparent; there was no debating his skills. Similarly, I knew old carpenters who learned their trade in pre-WWII Europe. When they wanted a job, they'd go to a shop or a construction site and show the foreman their toolboxes. In those days carpenters made their own; they didn't run off to Home Depot. One look, and the foreman knew: cabinet maker, framer, knucklehead.
Sorry about this rant, but it's a pet peeve of mine. You wanna play around with web design, be my guest, by all means. But don't tell me that your product is just as good as a site made by someone who has studied web design, and spends his days crafting beautiful, informative sites, with smooth navigation, that work across all browsers.
So, as the man says, you pays your money and you takes your choice.