Before getting to the list, I must say that this is just my view. And as you all know I am only in my second year of blogging and am still very much learning.
So here is my list:
1. A contact page where your email address can be easily located – or put it directly into your sidebar. Lots of people prefer to comment via email (avoids all the ghastly captcha stuff for one thing). I have posted about this here.
2. A search box – people will often want to search for topics/recipes etc that interest them. Make sure the search box is towards the top of your page. Go to this post for more on this.
3. A list of popular posts (including thumbnails) – I use the most popular for the month rather than all time. Here is a post I did on this.
4. Big clear follow me options. My current fave is Bloglovin but I also have a GFC widget and email etc.
5. Short blog list of blogs you like – don't let it default to being a list of every blog you follow – that will slow the loading of your page and clutter your home page up. I select a small number of book and food blogs to feature each week. (There is no quid pro quo for this – I just like to share blogs I enjoy with my readers) Go here to see more about this.
6. Restrict the number of posts that will show up on your home page to 6 or less. Again your blog will load more quickly.
7. If you are in to Pinterest (and most of us are), put a link to some of your important boards into your sidebar.
Other people will add that you have to have a good detailed About Me page – I don't happen to agree – but it is entirely a matter of personal taste. I want the substance of the blog to speak for itself and for my readers to get to know the way I think that way.
Finally, although this is not about your home page – I can't help myself. Please kill the captcha/word verification/prove you are not a robot stuff. Nothing will put your readers off from commenting more. If you are on Blogger and want to know how to kill it, go to this post.