Upfront child theme creation


Note: I have yet to start the upfront training, but will soon. I promise.

In the meantime, I'm using the Scribe theme as an Alpha test bed as it seems to have the smallest initial Page Load of all your Upfront child themes. I'm trying to tweak (smushit, cache, CDN, etc) the performance to create a baseline b4 I start to customize it.

Is there a way to create my own empty upfront child theme or do I just strip down an existing child theme to bare bones to see how it performs? What does the raw Parent Upfront theme look like?

I'm trying to figure out what I can expect for performance when compared to the lite loading well tuned Dixi site I will be transitioning from when using the same hosting, CDN, tools, plugins etc.


  • Nastia

    Hello tishimself , hope you are doing well today!

    You can create an empty child theme with Upfront Builder plugin.

    It is very simple to use, Just activate the plugin and navigate to Upfront > Builder, gave a name to your theme and click on create batton. And that's it, you will have an empty Upfront theme.

    More detailed instructions can be found on our documentation page:

    Let me know if you have any further questions!


  • tishimself


    I created a new child theme (Upfront sandbox 50mpg.org) to compare with the current live website (chicagopsychologist.com) with the purpose of determining if I could achieve comparable load times.

    Is there anything I can do to improve performance? The empty Upfront Child theme loads some 2 to three times longer than my current site. I have tried to keep things comparable, PHP 7, hosting, CDN, plugins, etc.

    You are more than welcome to login to the sandbox and help me tune it. I am invested in making this a fair comparison. I have asked my hosting company to ensure "KeepAlive On" is specified in Apache thinking this may help a bit. Any suggestions are welcome.

    Based on a GTMEXTIX performance analysis:
    CP: A(98%) A(98%) 0.7s 145KB 10

    50mpg: A(93%) A(99%) 3.0s 442KB 28 Scribe theme with Rocket and Upront>Experimental>Hardcore).

    50mpg: A(95%) A(95%) 2.3s 137KB 11 Empty child theme called Chicago psychologist)

    Using Pingdom:
    CP: 92 341ms 98% 141.7KB 7 NY
    50: 82 1.78s 75% 137.3KB 13 NY

  • Patrick

    Hi there tishimself

    I hope you're having a great day!

    There must be someone else that has done such a comparison? Would love to compare how they did it to how I am doing it.

    You might want to post that type of question in the Members Only forums where you can mine the experience of thousands of other WPMU DEV members. Perhaps the Web Development forum would be a good place to start?

  • Patrick


    I get between 1.7 & 4 sec from pingdom with a blank Builder theme from various locations... the 4 sec load was from Australia. But you can ask any of my colleagues who work there; ISPs there are slooooow.

    On another test site running a default Upfront theme (Fixer), I get the following from gtmetrix. Note this site has zero optimization done to it, so these results are quite reasonable:

  • tishimself


    Pingdom and GTMETRIX measure very differently. My non-upfront prod site records some 350ms on pingdom, but my target is to match the approx 1 second on GTMETRIX. My concern is that neither estimate load times on mobile devices, but I presume they will load more slowly on these devices. I expect/demand fast mobile load times for a CMS delivery site. Your expectations may differ, but I would like someone to help me tune away the slow load times I measure.

    For my test, I used the same hosting and tuning efforts as the purpose was to compare performance with my existing lite lifting theme. It was done as a head to head comparison based on my current VPS hosting with 512m memory for WP. I did not want to go thru the effort to learn to use the upfront builder, if the perfomance hit was high. I see no reason to suffer a 2-3 second or more uptick in load time for an empty upfront theme, i.e. No content delivered. I don't mind learning how to build my site with upfront unless it inteferes with content delivery which it does by needing more hosting cpu. I have concluded it would require more expensive hosting to get the same load times and so it not good for my CMS wp site. I would be happy to be proven wrong.

    So my initial tests with freebee responsive parallax themes is postive. Now I wish I could get WPMU to provide one so I can get their support. Lack of support for their old themes is what has sent me down this path.


  • tishimself


    I spent a fair amount of effort trying to performance test Upfront and think my methodology was reasonable. I could have compared the themes on the same website but the one is up and running so the impact was unacceptable. But the two sites were on the same VPS hosting service, same memory, same caching tool(Rocket) and the same CDN. One had content and the Upfront site delivered no content. GTMETRIX was the tool used to perform the measurement in a consistent way.

    Views may differ on the importance of my 2-3 second longer load time for a blank Upfront theme.

    However, this increased load time due to Upfront processing remains an uncontested fact. There seems no way to tune this away. I would like someone to prove me wrong.


  • Nastia

    Hello Larry,

    Hope you're doing well!

    I've repeated the test you've mentioned above with my site. The site is not brand new, on a shared hosting and the only plugin activated is the Upfront builder.

    I did the first test with Issue theme. The load time as you can see is 2,7 sec

    And this test is done with a blank Upfront theme. The load time is 2,2 seconds

    So I can't replicate similar results. You can try improving load speed even more by enabling upfront compress response option from Upfront > Experimental, please see the screenshot.

    In my case, this option improved page rank from B81% to A95%

    What happened to Danny's post?

    Would you please clarify what post you mean?

    Let me know your test results with the experimental feature!


  • tishimself


    The experiment option has always been hardcore.

    Base on the amount loaded in your test then a non-upfront theme would probably been much faster. I suggest the only thing keeping your site from loading faster is the same thing: upfront code processing.

    Again, my test was done as a comparison between two sites on my same host to remove the hosting as a variable. So your load time might be different. Your speed may vary, but It actually looks to me like the same results. You can't tune away the upfront core processing requirement.

    Visual Composer does not seem to have such a heavy load component, but I have not gotten far enough along to look into it's performance. I upgraded as old theme which to my chagrin forced me to use Visual Composer which was packaged into the upgrade.

    There was a particularly angry comment fron a member called Danny. I have the email from his post, but no matter. It would have been reasonable to have removed it. His content added nothing constructive to this thread.




  • Denitsa

    Hey there tishimself,

    I hope you're doing great and apologies for the delay in response here!

    Well, there's no universal truth when it comes to WP page builders, you always need to sacrifice some performance in order to gain the capabilities and convenience of a drag-and-drop builder.

    The special thing about Upfront is that it loads the header, footer and entire content of the page directly from the database, which makes it a bit heavier on the system. The Visual Composer, on the other hand, works by loading the VC theme so the plugin only takes care of the content of the page/post.

    This UF behaviour is needed for the various features and functions, and I'm having no problems running an Upfront theme on my live test install that's on a very limited hosting, so I believe it will not prove to be such a major issue for you too.

    To further speed things up, I'd recommend some caching solution like the W3 Total Cache plugin.

    Take care and have a nice day! :slight_smile:

    All the best,

  • tishimself

    I'm having a good day, but my path remains uncertain.

    I use rocket and a CDN. UF does not meet my load time goals, which is to retain a load time of about 1s as measured by GTMETRIX on my current hosting service for this pretty basic CMS site which I would like to turn into a one page look.

    VC loads quickly even after building the content. It permits me to use the native WP editor, so I can see the "extraneous" code but does work with my Yoast plugin. I only started to use VC because an upgrade to a theme purchased in 2014 replaced inherent theme functionality with VC. A local meetup group likes Divi, but it seems to not allow viewing content in the default WP editor so it would require a great deal of work to migrate off. They claim they will fix that someday.

    More recently, I have become concerned about SEO, especially compatibility with the Yoast plugins. With this in mind I think these visual editors are a bad idea, at least not helpful.

    I'm considering the Genesis framework with a child theme. A one time purchase with ongoing support. I like that!

    No decision yet,


  • tishimself


    "This UF behaviour is needed for the various features and functions, and I'm having no problems running an Upfront theme on my live test install that's on a very limited hosting, so I believe it will not prove to be such a major issue for you too."

    I mean no disrespect, this thread is probably long and confusing and split accrosstwo threads but my goal has been to lay down some solid criteria that would help ensure success for a simple CMS type site that will replace an unsupprted theme that does pretty well, but could use an updated look. I wanted to see if UF could meet this criteria.

    My current site loads in under a second. It uses the now unsupported Dixi theme so I want to replace it and spruce it up. But it also places very well in Google after all the pay per click and local sites push down the sites with an organicly high SEO. ( BTW, this business places #1 in the local listings for the search keyphrase for which it competes it competes).

    So my goals are getting clarified. It seems clear that the new site needs to load in around a second because that is what the current site does. But I also need to accomplish the same SEO. VC puts a lot of trash in the source, why do I want to start off with that potential hurrdle.
    DIVI seems to not even allow me to see the content inthe native wp editor. Not good. I can't review all the drag and drop editors as part of my hunt, but I'm moving away from them for what I think is good reason. But my reasoning is in the open for all in this respectable forum to RIP it.

    Yoast likes the Genesis framework. Some may not like Yoast, but he has been SEO business successfully now for sometime. Their local plugin is pretty useless in my opinion.

    So I'm still trying to find a new theme that will be supported. Genesis seems to fill that criteria well with a one time purchase.


  • Nastia

    Hello Larry, hope you are well!

    At this current time there no other options to reduce more the Upfront's load time than the once that were mentioned above. I've forwarded all the information included in this thread to our developers so they can have a closer look.

    At this point to achieve high load speed will require modifying the Upfront Framework itself, so this will be a major change that our developers engage to have a look at it in the future.

    Have a nice day and take care!

    Kind regards,

  • tishimself


    Not sure anyone has much interest in my journey, but Just in case....

    I installed the Genesis framework and a child theme. It may have been one of the earlier child themes because it did not have all the features, like their SEO tools.

    The static page seems to be only that which you can do on your own by writing code or buying a premium plugin.

    The regular pages consist of text widgets. They are not editable with the wp page/post editor.
    I can see how this would work for some, but I can't expect my client to edit wigdets. It also eliminates my use of the Yoast Premium SEO plugin.

    All their theme pages are widgetized.

    So, I started to use the default 2017 theme following the WPMUDEV tips availlable for free on the web. I used a short video tutorial to create a child theme.

    It seems to load fast, but I've just begun.


Thank NAME, for their help.

Let NAME know exactly why they deserved these points.

Gift a custom amount of points.