Index Page Customization

Hi everyone, I'm very new to elgg and fairly thick when it comes to coding.  I have managed to cut and paste code and alter some things in the past. I would like to have an uncluttered index page with the login box on the left and a large image on the right displaying headlines and bullets, perhaps a flash object.  I would also like to replace the text title with an image logo.  I can't find info about these two ideas. Can anyone direct me to helpful info?  I suppose I'm looking for an easy explanation of the anatomy of the index page.