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Welcome to Upfront!

This guide will introduce you to Upfront as a theme framework. It will instruct you on how to install Upfront core, Upfront starter themes and the Upfront Builder Plugin.

For a deeper dive into the magic of Upfront, we’d love you to join our Upfront course on the WPMU DEV Academy!

1.1 Upfront Basics

Link to chapter 1

Upfront is a revolutionary theme framework that makes creating beautiful, sophisticated websites intuitive and fun! Our Upfront team has combined the ease of drag-and-drop for beginners with an advanced feature set perfect for professional designers and developers alike.

Upfront Components

Upfront has key three components:

  • Upfront core — This is the framework itself. Upfront core must be installed to use any of our Upfront starter themes or the Upfront Builder plugin.
  • Upfront starter themes — This is our growing library of pre-built Upfront themes. Chapter two explains how to install an Upfront starter theme.
  • Upfront Builder Plugin — The Builder plugin allows you to create your own Upfront themes from scratch or modify an existing theme you’d like to use on multiple sites. The Builder plugin has its own document, “Using Upfront Builder”, where you can learn a lot more about how the plugin works alongside Upfront. Chapter three of this document explains how to install the Upfront Builder plugin.

Upfront Structure


The diagram above illustrates the structure of an Upfront theme using the Panino theme’s homepage as an example. The structure comprises three layers: Global Theme BG, Regions and Elements. Global Theme BG layer cannot be seen on the Panino homepage. However, if one of the Regions were to be set to a solid color of 0% opacity, Global Theme BG would be visible.

The diagram below is a shortcut, it describes where each of the aforementioned layers can be accessed and edited.


Upfront Behind the Scenes

Upfront works a little differently depending on which method you’re using to modify your theme.

  • Modifying your theme with the Upfront editor, accessed by clicking the Upfront link in your WordPress admin bar, saves all changes to your WordPress database.
  • Modifying a starter theme or creating a new theme from scratch from within the Upfront Builder creates PHP files and a folder structure mirroring average WordPress themes. This method is needed for users who want to distribute the Upfront starter themes they create.


1.2 Choosing and Installing an Upfront Starter Theme

Link to chapter 2

We’ve created several amazing starter themes to help you get started with Upfront. Each one was designed for a specific niche, and the beauty of our starter themes lies in their flexibility. If there isn’t a starter theme that fits your particular need, it’s simple to find a theme with elements you enjoy and modify it to fit your needs.

For a general overview on installing plugins and themes, take a look at our Installing WPMU DEV Plugins and Themes doc.

To install a starter theme, you’ve got three options:

  1. Install a starter theme via the WPMU DEV dashboard. This will automatically download Upfront core and install both in your /wp-content/themes folder.
  2. Download Upfront Core and your starter theme of choice from the project pages here on WPMU DEV (links follow each preview picture, below) and upload via Themes > Add New > Upload on your WordPress admin area.
  3. Download as above, unzip the files, and upload the upfront and starter theme folders to your wp-content/themes/ directory via FTP.


Fixer is a bold, fun theme ready to entice customers to buy your services.

Fixer Upfront theme preview

Download Fixer

Play with the Fixer Demo


Gillie is a theme created for YouTube users who’d like to have a web page to promote their channel, with a hint of the avant-garde.

Gillie Upfront theme preview

Download Gillie

Play with the Gillie Demo


Issue is a bloggers dream, with a front page your readers won’t be able to resist clicking on.

Issue Upfront theme preview

Download Issue

Play with the Issue demo

Luke & Sara

Luke & Sara was built for photographers, it’s an ideal theme for making photos pop.

Luke and Sara Upfront theme preview

Download Luke & Sara

Play with the Luke & Sara demo


Panino was built for restaurants, and has been known to make several WPMU DEV team members hungry while working on it. Panino balances a rich use of color with gorgeous imagery and trendy typography.

Panino Upfront theme preview

Download Panino

Play with Panino demo


Parrot is designed to help you sell your app. Straightforward and minimalist, Parrot helps present an app in a clean and efficient manner sure to attract attention.

Parrot Upfront theme preview

Download Parrot

Play with Parrot demo


Writers and typography lovers will delight in Scribe’s elegant and sophisticated tone.


Download Scribe

Play with Scribe demo


Spirit is a soothing, uplifting theme perfect for yoga and dance studios. It will allow you to showcase your space and classes beautifully.

Spirit Upfront theme preview

Download Spirit

Play with Spirit demo


1.3 Installing the Upfront Builder Plugin

Link to chapter 3

As its name suggests, the Upfront Builder will not be installed alongside your Upfront themes or Upfront core in wp-content/themes/. It’s installed in /wp-content/plugins/.

Like our other products, you can install via our Dashboard plugin on your site, or by downloading from the Upfront Builder product page and uploading via FTP or via Plugins > Add New > Upload.

Activate the plugin via your WPMU DEV dashboard Plugins page, or via the Installed Plugins tab in your WordPress admin.

If installation was successful, you’ll see an expanded Upfront tab in the admin menu of your WordPress admin area. 

Refer to our Using Upfront Builder Plugin document for more information on using Upfront Builder.