I stated in another post I have not designed in years. I have a project due in two weeks. Here is a template I created in Photoshop. This is version number 4 so please feel free to tear it apart. It is only a .gif I have not started cutting and coding yet.
more contrast is needed in the header. you have black text on a dark background. maybe lighten the colours up, or put a white glow around the text to make it stand out more. other than that, its a pretty nice design
More interesting if there were some images in it too. Agree regarding the banner, text does not stand out, primarily because it is black against a dark bg. Try using a lighter colour for the text, as using outglows on text looks amateurish.