Installing a Drupal Theme on an Existing Website - Migration Guide

Basic migration guide for installing a theme over top of an existing Drupal website:
If you were interested in attempting to set the theme up manually, please follow the instructions below. They are not exact but can help guide you in getting things set up on an existing website. For demonstration purposes, we will use the "Unite Business" theme as an example within the guide.

  1. Set up Unite theme on a staging server to get familiar with Views, content types, and other settings that control the look and feel of the theme.
  2. Set up your current, live site on a staging server/location, as you'll need to make changes to this location, applying the Unite theme settings to it.
  3. Log into the Unite theme (#1) above and get familiar with the content type settings (CCK), Views settings (you can export these), and any other specific settings within the configuration area.
  4. Now, you can copy the entire sites/all/themes/unitebusiness and sites/all/modules files over to your staging website. This will install all needed modules and the Unite theme so you can begin setting up the theme. Enable all of the modules used in the Unite theme, as the below steps for Views, etc. can't be completed unless the modules are enabled.
  5. Once all modules and the theme are moved over to your staging website (existing site), then import the Views from the Unite theme and make sure you name the View the same as noted in the Unite theme. To export, go to Structure > Views and beside each view click "Edit" dropdown and select Export. Save this to a .txt file named after the View you're exporting. In this theme there are several Views in total. Be sure to export them all.
  6. Import these View exports into your staging website, making sure all names are the same.
  7. Set up Content Types as noted in Structure > Content Types making sure all naming is the same as the demo. Having two, side by side browsers, one with the live Unite theme and your staging site version helps in setting this up more easily.
  8. Go to Structure > Blocks and make sure that you set up the same blocks. The side-by-side browser method noted above also applies here.
  9. Make sure that Image Styles have been applied. See: admin/config/media/image-styles - Configuration > Media > Image Styles

The above is pretty much all of the basics. But you can go through the Unite theme settings to ensure that you left nothing out. In order to get themes
working correctly, Views, content types, image styles, and other settings need to be set up.

Notice: does not provide migration support as there are so many variables on individual Drupal websites that are unique and have different configurations


  • Avatar
    Ken Rubotzky

    Read through a few times and now I better understand what is going on during a full installation. I'm surprised there are not more people who are trying to load a theme manually without a full installation since I would think many of us are trying to find a good theme fit for the increasing numbers of people surfing on their phone. That is, we have the site up, we want burgeoning phone users to see the site, we went to themesnap.

  • Avatar
    Brian G


    Thanks for the input. We try to disclose the installation profile on product pages so that users have a better understanding of what they are buying. Example:

    "IMPORTANT: The Best Mobile Drupal theme comes with an installation profile which installs the theme using the MySQL database and website information that you see in the demo of this theme. This means the theme needs to be installed on a new MySQL database and as a fresh Drupal installation unless you want to attempt to migrate the theme into your existing website (not supported by Read the easy setup instructions for the Best Mobile theme using the included profile installation."

    We hope this clears up any confusion, since we really can't explain it in more detail than what's on the product pages.


Please sign in to leave a comment.