By effectively separating the functionality and the presentation of a server control, skinned controls simplify the process for changing the control presentation. When properly implemented, you can change the look of an entire Web site by simply selecting a different set of skins.
Getting your custom control to behave the way you want it to is only half the work. You have to create the logic that generates the actual HTML shown in the browser. It's tedious work, especially if you're supporting multiple browsers.
XQuery 1.0 still has to reach W3C Recommendation status, but the available implementations and technology previews show that it is a very potent query language.
The ASP.NET Web Matrix project makes ASP.NET development easy. With ready-to-go pages, code builders, a visual design environment, and other useful features, Web Matrix is a very complete Web development tool that gets you going within minutes. Because it is freeware from Microsoft and the download is only 1.2 MB, there is nothing stopping you from experimenting with it.