said 1 year, 5 months ago:
I like to look at widgets as part of the website design and content. You widget areas and sidebars should add to the content and complement the website design.
If you have a blog on Social Networking would you throw a random post on “My Favorite Family Recipes” in? Probably not. Lots of folks look at widgets and sidebars as space that needs to be filled and fill them with irrelevant space fillers.
One way of using sidebars is to promote other content on your blog or site. I like a simple yet powerful widget called “Mini-Loops” which allows you to selectively display information on other content.
Another indispensable plugin is one which allows you to build your mailing list to keep in contact with folks who visit your blog. A sign up form is different from a members list. You should offer a premium, a newsletter or some other reason for people to want to stay in contact with you.
Want some good examples of sidebar widgets? Take a look at the ones on this page. They are not filling space but adding value to the reader experience.
As for minimizing widgets they are integral to WordPress design. Widgets may add some overhead and come at a minor cost in perfomance but they are good and necessary. Don’t be afraid to use widgets when they add to your site’s value.