Curious about why the biggest names in business use the Airtable software platform? You should be! Read this hands-on Airtable review to find out all you need to know.
Even small companies gather data quickly, it could be management data, accounting data, or data relating to ongoing projects. Either way, you need a place to store this data and access it when necessary – as sometimes spreadsheets don’t offer enough capability or capacity. That’s when you need a database. Airtable solves the problem of managing data on large scales.
In this review, we take a closer look at Airtable to see what it has to offer and why some of the biggest names in business view Airtable as the most viable option for their data management and collaboration. Find out more about the Airtable platform with a hands-on review that shows you the basics of how to operate and orientate yourself in the software. Let’s dive right in!
Table of Contents
What is Airtable?
Airtable is a software platform that allows uses to store, share, edit, and collaborate all under one roof, so to speak.
Businesses that collaborate on projects need a seamless way of sharing inventories, ideas, and tasks without hopping between workstations. Of course, many project management tools off these features but not all of them are focused on database management.
Companies that use Excel and Google Sheets know that information can be effectively added to a spreadsheet, edited and shared within a network. Here are also different degrees of complexity with spreadsheets, some can be quite elaborate and contain financial accounts. But spreadsheets are not quite the same as databases, Airtable handles larger quantities of data.
Airtable has plenty of Sheets to keep your projects organized and in sync, but what it’s mostly interested in is database management. Airtable uses the same integrated platform as alternative project management tools but it can create, edit, and manage larger datasets. This means you can create groups of work and assign tasks to team members and keep track of the progress.
The first step to getting started with Airtable is to set up an account. This is straightforward. All you do is navigate to the website and create an account for free, you can start with the Free Plan that gives you a 1200 record database and 2GB of storage space. All you need to sign up for a Free account is an e-mail address and password, it takes as little as 5 minutes to join.
After your account is set up – which should only take a few minutes – you can start building databases and creating Workspaces. A Workspace is a place to put your databases, you can think about them as categories. For instance, you can create a Workspace for Teams, or one for Content, or one for Personal Projects – within these Workspaces you can build your Databases.
Airtable is all about Databases so that’s where you want to head first. Building databases in Airtable is fairly straightforward and can be accomplished in a variety of ways. The easiest way to get started is to use one of Airtable’s templates that are already conveniently set up. Build your database from scratch within the template or import existing data from somewhere else.
Airtable has three main pricing options, Free, Plus, and Pro and discounts are available for non-profit work. If you’re new to Airtable it’s best to start with the free plan; that said, the free plan offers some generous features that make it worthwhile for low use database management. With the free plan, you can expect a 1200 record database and 2GB of storage space.
Move up one tier and you find the Plus account which costs $12 a month per person – that amounts to $120 per year. With the Plus Plan, you get unlimited databases and collaborators, you also get an increased database allowance, which goes up to 5,000 records per database. The database storage also increases to 5GB and you can benefit from 5,000 automation runs.
The next tier is the Pro account which costs $24 per person per month, for a single person this amounts to $240 per year. On the Pro account, the records per database increase to 50,000 and the space within individual databases goes up to 20GB. This tier also provides you with one year of revision and 50,000 automation runs per month, as well as access to priority support.
Who Uses Airtable?
Airtable is used by companies of all sizes, but most often it is used by businesses with 1-50 employees. That said, Airtable is popular with some of the biggest names in business such as the Walt Disney Company, Gap, and TED conferences. For some reason, the majority of businesses using this database platform are located in America, but that is incidental.
There’s a reason so many major businesses choose Airtable as their database and collaboration platform, it gives them all the functionality of a spreadsheet but with the capacity of a database, it also provides a suite of innovative tools and apps to help companies manage their data and control their projects. There are few database platforms that can compete.
In terms of industry, the majority of companies that use Airtable are from Computer Software, Higher Education, and Marketing and Advertising. These industries have a higher need for database management and collaboration, but any business in any industry can benefit from Airbase tools if they have large datasets to control – test out Airtable with the Free Plan.
Setting up an Airtable workspace is not entirely straightforward, sure, you can open a blank workspace template easily enough, just scroll to the bottom of the page and click the add workspace button; however, it helps if you have a bit more experience with the platform before you can design-focused workspaces effectively. Good thing it features Pre-Made Templates.
Whatever you’re working on Airtable has a Pre-Made Template for you to conveniently click on and get started right away. For example, you need a database to manage a video or photography project, everyone needs to be on the same page from pre-production to post-production. Head to the templates category and hit the Digital Video Production templates.
Custom views are a feature in Airtable that lets you adapt your data into different formats to share with team members. Custom views includes: Grid, Form, Calendar, Gallery, Kanban, Timeline, Gantt. Each view offers a fresh angle on your data and helps with collaboration projects; what’s more, these views are aligned with conventional software like Google Sheets.
Take the Airtable Calendar view, for example, the calendar view is clean and simple, there’s nothing there to trip you up or make your experience more complicated than it needs to be. The Calendar Views arranges your data according to Date columns making it simple to set up project aims and tasks. As with all views in Airtable, Calendar View is straightforward to share.
Managing Your Work Airtable gives you plenty of options for managing your projects and workflows. From the main project, the screen navigates to the help bar in the top right of the screen. A grey window is conveniently open and gives you the option of Building with Airtable, Sharing your Base, or Managing your Workflow. Each category contains several useful help screens for your projects.
Inside the “Managing your Work” screen you will find a series of windows relating to records keeping and record management. These screens help you to navigate your databases and manage your records – important when you’re handling large amounts of information in a database. These views allow you to add records, remove records and group them together.
In the old days, project managers used various tools such as Google Sheet and Excel to organize their workflows and assign tasks. Although these platforms are effective and popular for a reason, they are not a fully integrated solution like the software available today. Airtable Software is a fully integrated database with excellent project management capabilities.
One of the excellent benefits of using Airtable software is the ability to assign tasks to team members and enter task data to give the team a working idea of how long tasks have taken. Metrics such as “task time” can be updated manually giving teams members an accurate picture of the project and maintaining productivity levels. Find everything in one place with Airtable.
Although Airtable is an effective project management tool and database platform it doesn’t have all the integrations you might expect from a dedicated project management software. This means the platform lacks certain essential features such as messengers, development capabilities, and content management tools. Instead is offers some excellent app integration.
If you need to extend the capabilities of Airtable for your enterprise all you need to do is navigate to the apps marketplace located at the top right of your spreadsheet view. This brings up an app screen where you can find dedicated Airtable apps as well as third-party apps and open source apps. The advantage of using apps is lighter software that’s more tailored.
Workspaces are what Airtable uses to facilitate collaboration on the platform, a workspace is an area that contains “bases” with each base containing information on a specific project. All team members can gain access to bases for project collaboration, but how can you upgrade?
Upgrading workspaces, from free-to-paid, for instance, is fairly straightforward. First, navigate to the workspace place settings, enter accounts and click on the workspace you wish to upgrade. Then, click on the gold upgrade workspace option and select a suitable plan for your project.
Sometimes it’s necessary to add invoice details to a project at a leather date, this might be descriptions or payment details required by the client. In Airtable you can only update invoices if you are the Workspace owner, otherwise, you will be denied ask and must seek permissions.
In your account navigate to the Workspace settings and click on the option “Invoice Details”. A pop-up will open allowing you to add additional information such as an address, tax code, and any additional information. Note, changes to invoices take place on the next available invoice.
Airtable uses modular apps that live on top of bases and provide new ways to visualize workflows such as maps, charts, and timelines. But that only opens up more possibilities for innovation, at some point you may want to share an app with a base, but is it possible?
Technically it is, although embedded apps and shared apps are no longer in active development they are still available upon request. One way to share an app with your base is to generate an App Share Link which allows you to share a read-only version of your app with your user base.
Tables are finite in Airtable and should be used sparingly, it might be tempting to open a new table for every project but you will quickly hit your limitations. Instead, categorize items of the same species together to reduce table usage and get the most out of your Airtable account.
Appropriate use of a table would be to distinguish between distinct types of records such as projects from clients, but it is not useful to use tables to categorize more frequent properties such as projects for different months, or content pieces for channels, so use tables sparingly.
Overall Airtable is a reliable and resourceful Database and collaboration platform that’s trusted by some of the largest companies in America. Why? Because it keeps things simple and combines this simplicity with capacity so that businesses of all sizes can effectively store information and allocate it as necessary. That’s not all, it’s also a project management tool.
That’s right, Airtable gives you the best of both worlds, excellent storage capacity for your data along with project management capabilities that help businesses create dedicated workspaces for projects. As with alternative project management software, Airtable also allows you to make notes in your projects and tasks to keep your team informed and increase productivity potential.