i get asked this quite a bit.
“That must take ages to build”, “How can i do this…”, “How did you learn all you know”…
well, the answer is simple – hard work. You can’t build a website and maintain it without knowing the basics. You MUST know basic html above all else. You can’t simply switch roles and web user to web designer without work and knowledge of internet languages.
There is user-friendly software out there to develop sites (blogs for example are pretty handy to set up), joomla is a free web design program.. But imo, you can’t even use that without having basic knowledge of HTML.
You definately can’t make money out of a website if you don’t know how to add adsense, affiliate links, text link ads etc…
However once you’re at the stage i’m at, you can read tutorials, create custom 2.0 built sites using photoshop and generally have a pretty decent website without actually knowing the hardcore code.
it’s remarkable easy to install forums / shopping carts etc.. sure there are always little problems – but that’s why you need to know basic HTML, because you’ll have to fix those problems.
my advice, if you’re interested in web design – is to get dreamweaver & photoshop and download a few free templates.. mess about with text/colour and eventually you’ll learn enough to hack it with the rest of us. Practice makes perfect as the say.