I have had a really positive experience lately for one of my sites. If you suck at graphic design/programming a website from scratch then I hope you will get something out of this post.
Step 1. Find a free template that is coded well and uses images background images (most do).
Step 2. Contact the owner of the template and ask to remove the link at the bottom (cost me $20).
Step 3. Hire someone to redo the background images (cost me $20).
So now you have a unique looking/well coded website that looks original for only $40 (although it may cost you slightly more/less).