Preparing to Export and Package Your Theme

Aug 12, 2021 | Selling Themes

Do a Sanity Check and Seek Feedback

As you near the end of your theme build, it’s easy to get over-excited and rush straight to the exciting part – putting it on sale. Once I’ve finished, I like to send a preview out to my audience inviting feedback. It’s the final sanity check you need, to ensure you are on track, and it also helps generate excitement for your upcoming product launch.

Save all of your layouts to the theme or plugin library

You might be planning to install your demo pages complete with layouts already installed but your end-user needs options. Some customers will be adding your theme to an existing site and won’t want to import your demo pages and blog posts. 

Instead, they will want to load them from the theme or plugin library. Eg. Divi stores layouts in the Divi Library and Elementor includes a template library. 

And of course, customers will make mistakes during the customization process and want to start again, so making sure that there is a pristine copy in the library will cut down on support tickets and requests for replacement layouts.

Check Your Image Sizes

Keeping your image file sizes as small as possible is vital when it comes to making sure your theme is easy to install.

Large theme files are more prone to timing out during the install process because you’ll find that cheap shared hosting often limits the size of the files that can be uploaded via the media, theme, or plugin area.

Asking your customer to either access their cPanel or open a support ticket in order to increase permitted file size is a headache you really don’t need.

Use tools like ShortPixeljPeg Mini, or Bulk Resize Photos before you upload any images to your media library.

Clean Up Your Media Library

At the very least, you’re likely to be exporting all of the images in your layouts, if not your demo site’s entire media library. When you’re in the thick of designing, it’s easy to get carried away and upload multiple versions of graphics and images and then forgot to delete them, creating bloat and an oversized theme file.

Before you prepare to export your theme, purge your media library of any files not being used in the theme. The good news is there is a great batch-checking tool which I’ll recommend shortly.

Packaging Your Theme

Create a one-click install process that is easy to use

For a child theme to REALLY feel like a fully featured theme, then the install process needs to be really slick and needs to be initiated with just one click from your end-user. Before we go too much further, it’s important to understand what’s actually included in a child theme.

Assuming you aren’t going to include any additional PHP files, your child theme will only contain a stylesheet, a functions.php file, and a pretty screenshot which will show up in the Appearance > Themes area.

The child theme itself typically doesn’t include the pages, posts, menus, media, layouts, and settings of your parent theme or page builder – those are stored in the WordPress database. But a great install process bundles all of the above together and installs them at the same time as your child theme is installed. Ideally, the installer will then be able to be removed to make sure that it doesn’t pose an ongoing security threat.

The functions.php method or installer plugin?

There are two ways of creating a slick auto-install process. There are plenty of scripts out there that you can adapt and add to your child theme’s functions.php file, to do things such as to require plugin installation but you’ll probably need to work with a developer to also package up your layouts, settings, demo content, etc.

However, I’ve found that leaving that installer code in the functions.php often results in code errors over time, leaving you once again with support tickets and the problem of how to help your non-techy customers remove redundant files.


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