Where’s the Twenty-eighteen WordPress default theme?

Updated: July 2018
Plugin Surgery

Normally, about this time, we’d write about the new-release of a default theme – and we’d torture test it for speed. Not so this year. Why? Gutenberg has delayed Twenty-eighteen theme completion schedule. The powers that be say, “Spring 2018” for introduction.

Seriously! We doubt it. There is so much controversy over the Gutenberg editor addition. Already plugins are announced to remove it.

Disable Gutenberg
Completely disables the Gutenberg block editor and enables the classic WordPress post editor (TinyMCE aka WYSIWYG) for lighter coding and simplicity.

We’re delighted. There’s rumors the controversy, disruption, and dislike of Gutenberg will fork WordPress. A project fork happens when developers take a copy of source code from one software package and start independent development on it. This creates a distinct and separate piece of software. That would help WordPress get their act together. Or create competition improving quality for both versions.

There is a fork of WordPress already in existence. It merely adds Composer support. Composer is a development tool. It’s a dependency manager for PHP.  Put simply, it’s for coders and programmers. It’s a method of not having to rely on third-party plugins. Everything is integrated into WordPress. That includes customized theme and plugin code. Updates then won’t overwrite any customizations. Do we care about this? No. It’s not part of our goals. We test and write about using WordPress plugins from the free directory.

The other fork was to be Ghost, a lightweight CMS based on WordPress. Plainly, speed and usability were motives for this fork. Instead, it was rebuilt with new code. Why? They got money from Kickstarter ($100,000+) and then Microsoft and others came on the scene as investors. Ghost is written in JavaScript client-side programming language. WordPress is written in PHP server-side programming language. Ghost’s authors claim it’s a CMS concentrated on publishing content. The idea for Ghost first appeared as a post on developer John O’Nolan’s blog back in November of 2012.

Independent tests show Ghost to be up to 1,900 percent faster than WordPress. What does that mean? In the amount of time it takes WordPress to respond to 1 request, Ghost already responded to 19 of them. Is this speed hype for product differentiation?

Does PagePipe use Ghost or Ghost’s $20-per-month servers? Nope. Do we recommend it? Nope. We have a point to prove: cheap, shared-hosting can be fast. Ghost’s Home-page loads in 2.8 seconds and TTFB is 1 second. Not good enough. Even GoDaddy’s better. PagePipe TTFB is 245 milliseconds. So Ghost’s server delays negate fancy speed claims. Most fast, free themes load in around 50 milliseconds. WordPress core is even less than that. So Ghost’s boost in speed is theoretical or ivory-tower.

Since WordPress originated as a fork of b2/cafelog – and almost forked before with Ghost – it may fork in 2018. Who knows? It depends upon how much users hate Gutenberg.

Meanwhile, don’t hold your breath. No Twenty-eighteen theme is on the horizon for some time. We recommend two alternatives for speed:


thumbnail of THEME-ME-10-v1.compressed
THEME.ME: What is the fastest free theme? There are 5,100 free themes in the WordPress theme directory. Of those, only 1,602 are responsive. All the rest are fixed-width junk. How did we sort the remaining 1,602 free responsive themes to find the fastest loading?

Twenty-seventeen Default Theme Tips Read our torture-test results of this popular free theme. Don’t get locked in for recurring *annual renewal* theme memberships. Save your money. The Twenty-seventeen Torture-tested Themes ebook contains honest and common-sense reporting and tips about mobile WordPress speed!


Steve Teare
performance engineer

Mobile WordPress Speed – without coding!

What others think of us:

"Steve, many thanks for your prompt reply. I really appreciate it. I have to now seriously look at ways to speed up the site and what is relevant content for the mobile market. My Google analytics show 75/25 in favour of mobile/tablet users." londontheatre1.com London

by - Neil Cheesman

WordPress dream theme for mobile speed: GeneratePress 2.0.
Theme Review: Accelerate WordPress theme is fast loading.