I admit that, after reading my first HTML/CSS book (which was Stylin' with CSS ... very good book), I did have to practice and learn quite a bit; but hanging around in these forums made a huge difference, as there are some amazing people around here, from whom there is a lot to learn. Yes, any time you are having a problem or difficulty, you have direct access to some of the best experts in the business, so it's a great place to hang around.
I have played with a number of CMSes, including WordPress. WP is good in a way, but it's a bit messy, too, and is really for blogging that standard websites, although that is changing. Still, it's a bit of a mess to bend to your will, and I wouldn't recommend it unless you have a bit of programming knowhow.
For most websites, my favorite option is [ExpressionEngine, which has a price tag on it, but it's a very clean and logical system to use. But there are lots of others, many free. The closest free option to EE that I know of is [URL="http://modx.com/"]MODx, which is also very popular. There are bigger, more powerful CMSes like Drupal, but they are a bit intimidating for a beginner. Then there are some smaller, easier-to-learn CMSes that don't allow you do do as much but are very good all the same ... such as [URL="http://grabaperch.com/"]Perch, [URL="http://mojomotor.com/"]MojoMotor and [URL="http://unify.unitinteractive.com/"]Unify](http://expressionengine.com/).
Another option is to use a hosted CMS, where you get web hosting along with all the CMS tools you need, without having to worry about updating the CMS etc. Usually this has a monthly fee, which can be highish, but it's worth considering. Options include [WebPop, [URL="http://www.webvanta.com/"]Webvanta and [URL="http://www.businesscatalyst.com/"]Business Catalyst](http://www.webpop.com/).