To start things off, the Free-Press's overall layout is bad. Very bad. It looks very plain and too constrained. There is a lot of white space on both sides of the website and there isn't very many lead stories on the home page. Also, there are a bunch of ads on the rights side of the site, which I think distracts from the stories trying to be presented. It would be in the site's best interest to get a design reboot.
Now for the writing. Overall, I feel like the Free-Press has some good writing. A lot of the stories are written well and normal have a good amount of depth to them. I'm naturally drawn to sports stories and the Free-Press doesn't read like a box score too often. However, there isn't a lot of original reporting being done. Because the Free-Press is owned by the same company as USA Today, there are stories borrowed from USA Today and put on the site. If I were working for the Free-Press, I would want my stories to be published, not one from a reporter working for a different outlet than myself.
One final aspect I disliked about the Free-Press was its archives. If someone were to look at a specific beat, whether it be the Red Wings, television, or community reporting, the archives would show stories from a month and a half ago. It would be much better for the Free-Press to not have them all on one page and instead show the last 10-15 articles per page. This would create a lot less clutter and still give readers the ability to find a story they were looking for.
The Free-Press did add the feature pictured above during the time I was covering the beat. It's a slideshow of ten videos that changes every five seconds or so. When you click play, it loads the story right there and when you're finished, it automatically goes to the next video. It's a great way to showcase the videos on the site and makes it easier for viewers to find. I would like to see it moved up on the home page and possibly introduced to other channels on the site.
The Detroit Free-Press would not be my go-to news site if I needed to find news. I would go to national news sources for big stories and sites such as ESPN for sports stories. If I were originally from Detroit, I may feel differently. But I'll take the Post-Dispatch any day.