I've been mulling of this question for a while and try out different approaches for each site: What is a flexible approach to managing widgets on a CMS sidebar that is easy to use and maintain as well as gives control. I also need it to be client-proof so end users can't much up the design. Generally, I'd like to control which content displays on each section of a site. Widget control per-page would be nice, but not necessary.
To generate content (almost always an image, some link and text) I've used a combination of a content-block custom post type plugins or the Image Widget plugin, both with little success.
Is there some other elegant solution I'm missing. What set of tools do other people use?