This is a summary of the post I wrote here: http://jesserfriedman.com/a-call-to-change-wordpress-widgets/
I propose that Sidebars and Widgets work exactly the same way as menus. As a User Admin you'll be able to define “Widget Holders” (we can use a more elegant term) similar to defining menus. Once these holders are defined we can fill them with widgets and order them how we like.
Theme developers will then define “Widget Holder Locations” (currently known as sidebars but again we’ll come up with a more semantic and elegant naming convention). Once these locations are defined we can select which widget holders to place in each location in the same manner we define menu locations.
This immediately separates widgets from the theme allowing them to remain accessible and available to the User Admin regardless of how many times they change themes.
The Benefit is “Theme Independence” allowing User Admins to change themes without worry of losing their widgets and sidebars.
I know how much work is put into defining widgets. I utilize sidebars throughout all my client projects and placing, editing and ordering widgets takes a lot of work. Even defining a new sidebar between two others throws off the entire widget order. It’s tedious and unnecessary!
I also have clients who run specials and monthly campaigns. With this new Sidebar Widget solution we could define as many Widget Holders as we want and later switch them in the Widget Holder Locations. So we can have a traditional aside with “Recent Posts” and other related widgets. We can also define a second widget holder to house our monthly campaign content. When it comes time to run the campaign we can just change our widget holder selection in the location dropdown, just like in the menu area. Saving and restoring widget holders is just the tip of the iceberg in benefits.