Hi Melissa and all,
I personally use Dreamweaver and love it, but it can have a bit of a steep learning curve. It has grown more user friendly over the years and version 8 is more intuitive than ever (translate that to you really can play around with it without necessarily needing to take courses, read the manual, etc.)
But (and this is a really important point to make) if you want a professional looking website you will learn that it really begins with professional looking graphics. Online viewers typically spend less than 60 sec. viewing your page. Your graphics should be professional and eye catching without being gaudy.
I use another Macromedia product - Fireworks - for graphics. I can do total page design within that product. There is even a tool which will slice and dice the image into the required componants to build a table and will output the html for you. Within Fireworks you can add links, image descriptions, create animated gifs or javascipt rollovers, pop ups, etc.
Just remember, when you're new at this, just because you "can" do something in html doesn't mean that you "should". Too many websites already online with images/music/overly long flash intros/movies that download slowly and cause people to click away from your website. And then what have we accomplished? Those can be OK for private demonstrations you may want to show select groups of people, but in general the public will not be so impressed
And if you don't want to deal with all of this, templates can be a great substitute to achieve a professional looking website too. The downside is that your website is not "custom" and you could run across a duplicate of yours, but most people will never know that. You will still need software/freeware to upload your website in most cases.