Blog design is no exact science, and different people have different tastes and expectations. I don’t want to prescribe what a blog ought to look like, since blogs are most often by nature personal, and should reflect the personality of the blogger. So the following are personal observation and expressions of personal preference.
There is a tendency to over-stuff blogs with too many widgets. I think that’s a bad idea, because it often makes the blog longer to load (see ‘Blogging │ Loading time’), and it makes the blog look too cluttered. I can understand why the blog shouldn’t look empty, but I think it’s not a great idea to add widgets that may look pretty but serve no purpose to fill up empty space.
I have added, removed and added again some widgets on the sidebar. I still haven’t made my mind up on some of them, and sometimes I add a widget in the morning, only to remove it in the evening. There are, however, two principles I adhere to. First: a widget must serve a purpose, such as linking to blog directories or interact with the readership. This utility test has two elements. A widget is either useful for the blog and the blogger, or to the visitor. Ideally it’s both, but if not, it has to serve one or the other. Second: any widget must not overpower the content. Widgets are subsidiary to the primary content of the blog, i.e. the posts. Anything that detracts too much from the posts is not a great idea. It dilutes the primary content, and sends out mixed messages as to what the blog is about.
Whatever principles one adheres to, the most important thing is to tweak the blog if necesary, and be, as it were, comfortable in one’s own skin.