22 Sep 2005
11 Jul 2007
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I don't think you are going to find a perfect answer to your questions. The best news, for someone who is not great at manual CSS, is that, I think, Sitefinity is planning on releasing more predefined layouts like the one for TIU that you like.
CSS is critical because it is the most flexible standard design solution. However, I agree that until someone invents a perfect cross browser, visual, CSS editor for designing layouts, the only answer is to start getting familiar with manually editing your CSS.