How to Export a WordPress Theme [Tips & Best Practices]

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Clint Fontanella
Clint Fontanella

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Exporting a WordPress theme can be a complicated process, and there are many things to consider before making the switch. Whether you are moving your theme to another site or selling it to others, it is important to follow some proven best practices and consider potential issues that may arise during the export process.

Marketer exporting a WordPress theme

In this post, we'll discuss the best practices and considerations for exporting a theme on a WordPress website. By following these guidelines, you can ensure that your exported theme is compatible with the destination site, accessible to users, and legally compliant.Download Now: How to Launch a WordPress Website  [Free Guide + Checklist]

From creating a backup of your theme to troubleshooting issues during the export process, we will provide you with tips and resources for conducting a successful export. By the end of this post, you'll be ready to export a WordPress theme and know the steps necessary for a smooth transition. 

Let's get started.

Table of Contents

How to Export a WordPress Theme

Exporting a WordPress theme is crucial for transferring a website from one WordPress installation to another. It can also help create backups or distribute themes to others. In this section, we will walk you through the steps of exporting a WordPress theme and then dive into some best practices to keep in mind while doing so.

Step 1: Navigate to the WordPress theme editor.

To export a WordPress theme, first, navigate to the theme editor. You can access the theme editor by navigating to Appearance > Themes in the WordPress admin area.

Step 2: Choose a WordPress theme to export.

Once you're in the theme editor, you'll need to select the theme you want to export. If you have multiple themes installed, you can select the one you want to export from the dropdown menu in the top right corner. 

wordpress export theme

Be sure to select an active theme. If it is not active, hover over it and select Activate

Step 3: Export the WordPress theme files.

Once you have selected the theme, you can begin the export process. To export the theme files, click on the Export button located in the top right corner of the theme editor. It will be located under the Tools section. This will generate a .zip file containing all of the files necessary for the theme to function.

how to export a wordpress theme

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Step 4: Save the .zip file.

After clicking on the "Export" button, you'll be prompted to save the .zip file to your computer. Choose a location where you can easily find the file later, such as your desktop or a specific folder on your computer.

Exporting a Theme With a WordPress Plugin

If you would like to automate your export, you can use a plugin to speed things up a bit. For this section, we'll explain how to export a WordPress theme using the All-in-One WP Migration plugin. 

Step 1: Install a WordPress Plugin

To begin, you'll need to install and activate the All-in-One WP Migration plugin on your WordPress website. You can find this plugin by going to the WordPress dashboard, clicking on Plugins and then Add New. Search for "All-in-One WP Migration" and then click on Install Now.

Step 2: Export Your WordPress Theme

Once you've installed the plugin, it's time to export your WordPress theme. Navigate to the plugin tab in the WordPress dashboard and click on Export. From there, select Export To and then choose File. This will create a file that contains all the necessary components of your WordPress theme, such as theme files, CSS stylesheets, images, and JavaScript files.

Exporting a wordpress theme with a plugin

Step 3: Import Your Theme

Now that you've exported your theme, it's time to import it into your new site. To do this, install and activate your export plugin on your new website.

Then, navigate to the plugin's admin tab and click on Import. From there, select Import From and then choose the file you exported in step 2. The plugin will then automatically import your WordPress theme and all its components.

exporting a wordpress theme using the all in one WP plugin

Step 4: Verify Your Theme

After you've imported your theme, it's important to verify that everything is working as it should be. Check all the components of your theme, including the CSS stylesheets, images, and JavaScript files. If everything is working properly, you're good to go!

Best Practices for Exporting WordPress Themes

1. Always save a backup.

The first best practice for exporting a WordPress theme is to create a backup of the current theme before making any changes. This ensures that you have a copy of the original files in case anything goes wrong during the export process. It's recommended that you create a backup of both the theme files and the database to preserve all of your content.

You can backup your site with a WordPress plugin like Updraft Plus

backing up you wordpress site before you export a theme

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2. Ensure your theme is compatible with its destination.

Once you have created a backup, the next step is to ensure that the exported theme is compatible with the destination site. This includes checking for compatibility with the WordPress version, plugins, and other site-specific features. 

Testing the exported theme on a staging site before importing it to the live site is one way to ensure compatibility. This allows you to identify any potential issues and make changes before the theme goes live.

3. Pick the right WordPress plugin.

Another best practice for exporting a WordPress theme is to select the right plugin to assist with the export process. There are many different plugins available that can help with exporting themes, but not all plugins are created equal. It is important to choose a plugin that's reliable, has good reviews, and is compatible with your current WordPress version. 

Some popular export plugins include All-in-One WP Migration and Duplicator.

Considerations for Exporting WordPress Themes

In addition to these best practices, there are several considerations to keep in mind when exporting a WordPress theme. 

1. Legal Compliance 

Legal compliance is one of the most important considerations when exporting a WordPress theme. If you plan to sell your theme or use it on a site that is not owned by you, it is essential to ensure that the theme complies with all applicable laws and regulations. This includes copyright laws, licensing agreements, and other legal requirements. 

To ensure compliance, it is recommended that you consult with a legal professional or review relevant laws and regulations before exporting your theme.

2. Web Accessibility

Another consideration is web accessibility. It is important to ensure that your exported theme is accessible to users with disabilities, as it's a best practice for web development. 

To make your WordPress site web accessible, you can follow best practices such as providing alt text for images, using headings to structure content, and ensuring that all content is keyboard accessible. There are also tools and resources available that can help you evaluate the accessibility of your theme and make necessary changes.

3. Hosting Limitations

Site-specific features such as custom post types and taxonomies can also pose a challenge when exporting a WordPress theme. These features may not be supported on the destination site, resulting in errors or missing content. To address this issue, it is recommended that you export these features separately from the theme and import them to the destination site using a plugin such as WP All Import or the WordPress Importer.

4. Browser Compatibility

Another consideration when exporting a WordPress theme is compatibility with different browsers and devices. It is important to ensure that your exported theme is compatible with popular browsers and devices for a good user experience. This can be achieved by testing the theme on different browsers and devices before exporting it to the destination site. Additionally, you can follow best practices such as using responsive design and optimizing images for fast loading times to ensure compatibility.

Tips for Troubleshooting a WordPress Theme Export

Exporting a WordPress theme can sometimes be complicated, and various issues might arise during the export. These issues can range from compatibility problems to errors with specific files or plugins. This section will discuss some tips for troubleshooting these types of issues that may arise during the export process.

Check your error logs.

One of the first things you should do – regardless of the error – is to check the error logs. WordPress has an error log that can help you identify and diagnose issues with the export. You can access the error log by navigating to the wp-content folder and looking for the file named error.log. This file will contain information about any errors that occurred during the export process, which can help you identify the root cause of the issue.

Disable WordPress Plugins.

Another tip for troubleshooting issues during the export process is to disable any plugins that may be causing problems. Plugins can sometimes interfere with the export process and cause errors. You can disable plugins by navigating to the plugins page in the WordPress admin area and deactivating them individually. If the export works after disabling a particular plugin, you may need to investigate further to determine why that plugin is causing issues.

Ensure your new theme’s compatibility.

Compatibility issues can also arise during the export process. One way to address this is to ensure that the exported theme is compatible with the version of WordPress on the destination site. You can also test the exported theme on a staging site before importing it to the live site to identify any compatibility issues and make necessary changes.

Reupload existing files.

If you are experiencing issues with specific files during the export process, you can try re-uploading those files to the server. This can sometimes resolve issues with corrupted or missing files that may be causing errors during the export.

Ask a WordPress developer for support.

Finally, if you can't resolve issues during the export process, seeking assistance from WordPress support or a professional developer may be helpful. They may be able to identify and resolve issues you can't address alone.

Now that you're a pro at exporting WordPress themes, you have the power to move mountains (or themes) with ease! You can take your website from one host to another, create backups faster than a speeding bullet, and even share your favorite themes with your friends and colleagues (who will undoubtedly be super impressed with your newfound expertise).

Author's Note: This post was written/edited by a human with the assistance of generative AI. 

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