New to WordPress. What have I got myself into?

I’ve agreed to create a WordPress website, but I’ve never done this before. Most of the websites explaining the “basics” of WordPress are anything but. If I can get some answers here or directed somewhere, I’d appreciate it.

Basically, I need to find a design and get it set up for the client to be able to manage the site on their own.

I’m not a programmer; my background is in the front-end design, plus html/css. So if you tell me to configure a MySQL database, I’m not going to be able to…

Here’s my understanding of WordPress, so far:

Find/buy a theme
Find a WordPress hosting provider
Upload my theme

So here are some questions…

Installation: If I use a WordPress hosting provider, why do I have to install WordPress?

Modifying the Theme: Am I able to modify the theme via the dashboard, once it’s uploaded? Or am I better off making changes to the css before I upload the theme?

Can I change the layout of my Theme? If so, can I do this via the dashboard or must I change the css before I upload it?

Any other advice or suggestions would be appreciated.

Simple answer to that is easy marketing, currently there is not auto installer for Wordpress.

As far as I know there is no possible way currently to manage the theme files themselves.

You can change the theme to suit however you need the designed layout to be, Wordpress is very easy to work with when it comes to layouts. As for the second part of your question my previous comment answers it.

What I recommend you look into though is a book called Digging into Wordpress which is $30 but is worth the 300-400 pages that it has.

My host has a “one-click install” option. Basically it could save me from needing to upload the files myself. That would be a time saver, except I prefer to hack a bit on localhost first.

You can edit theme files through the ACP, but last I knew WordPress itself recommends NOT.

As far as the extent of theme file hacking needed, you could try finding a theme that’s heavily “widgetized” and rearrange through the ACP widget panel if you prefer a more visual interface over view-source code.