What is Airtable?
Airtable is a popular cloud-based relational database application with an elegant visual user interface.
That’s the boring, official definition, anyway…
A better way for you to understand what Airtable is—and what it does—is to simply show you!
What you see embedded above is what’s called an Airtable “base”.
It’s basically a database that you interact with exclusively through a clean visual interface (as opposed to a command line or query).
Everything you do in Airtable is point-and-click, which makes it easy to use even if you’re not technical.
Despite the smooth and simple experience, it packs some serious power and utility.
(In fact, we run much of our business from a single Airtable base that we call our “MemberFix Control Center”, pictured below:)
You’ll also notice in the embedded base above that there are several tabs you can click on.
These are called “tables”.
You use tables to organize different categories of information.
Finally, within each table you have a number of different types of “fields” that you use to record your information.
Some Airtable field types include:
- Single line text
- Long text
- Phone numbers
- Linked records
So to recap, a BASE is a self-contained database.
A TABLE is one of the tabs in that base.
And fields are all the places where you can enter different kinds of information.
But let’s not get hung up on the technical jargon…
In the base embedded above, you can see that we have a table which lists the various Apps and Services that we work in our MemberFix service.
The second tab contains a list of Example Tasks that you might ask us to do.
And the third tab contains a list of Tasks That We Don’t Do.
“Wow, Vic. That’s amazing. I never saw a spreadsheet before. Maybe for your next trick you can show me how to check email…”
My internal devil’s advocate is a sarcastic jerk but he has a point.
Indeed, what makes Airtable any different from a plain ol’ spreadsheet…?
How does Airtable work?
Airtable works by giving you the ability to link records between different tables, display and edit those records in multiple places without having to duplicate them, and showing you the relationships of records and tables to one other in a simple visual format.
Hence the term “relational database”.
For instance, in the base above you can see that one of the WordPress plugins our team works with is the ActiveMember360 membership plugin.
We also list several example tasks that we can do for customers who have this plugin, such as installing the plugin, configuring it, or deleting it.
But since we can perform the same action on a lot of different plugins (like installing it, for example), wouldn’t it be easier to just list that action once and then link the record which describes that action to each of the plugins we can perform it on…?
So that’s we’ve done.
What does this mean for you as an Airtable user…?
It means that you only ever have to enter a piece of information once, in one location, and that’s it.
If you ever need that info again in another table, you don’t have to enter it again—which would result in a lot of duplicate entries, conflicting records, and just a big ol’ mess—instead, you simply LINK to that record.
This allows you to see the relationship between different records, saves you work, and keeps you organized.
Making sense of your records
The second feature that makes Airtable so insanely useful is its organizing ability.
I use the term “organizing” loosely to refer to several distinct actions you can perform:
- Hide / show fields
- Create views
Filtering your records
Filters tell Airtable which records to show in your table.
For example, suppose you run a kennel.
Let’s say have a table called “animals” and you want to see just the “dogs” in that table.
You would simply create a filter that checks the “animal type” field for the value “dog”, like so:
You can even “stack” conditions using “and / or” logic to come up with some pretty sophisticated filters.
For example, let’s say your kennel allows people to adopt animals.
Let’s also suppose that your kennel has hundreds of animals to choose from.
One day, a fussy senior citizen comes in and wants to to adopt a dog.
But he’s only willing to adopt a certain kind of dog.
He wants his new dog to have all of the following qualities:
- Under 5kgs – he’s an old man and can’t handle the strength of a large dog…
- No pugs – he thinks they look like old timey villains from black and white gangster movies…
- Potty trained – he’s already got his own troubles to deal with…
- Male – prefers their disposition…
- No poodles – too poofy…
- ≤ 1 owners – He wants a dog that hasn’t been too influenced by previous owners…
- 1-3 years old – to him, this is the sweet spot of canine age…
Well shoot, that’s a lot of requirements…
But with Airtable, it’s as easy as applying a filter with all of the conditions listed above.
Note that the available operators depend on the field.
For example, it wouldn’t make sense to have a “greater than or equal to” operator for a text field, since it can only apply to numbers.
Of course, to apply these filters you’d first need to create all of these fields, make sure they’re the correct field types, and populate them with your data.
But once you’ve done that, you can satisfy even the most fickle of requests easily.
Grouping allows you to organize all of the data in a table around a particular field.
For example, if you want to see animals by species in your kennel base, you simply group the “Animals” table using the species field.
As you can see, this arranges your table into sections with convenient labels in the primary field’s header column.
Note that the way you’re able to group info in a table depends on the type of field you use to create your groupings.
Another cool feature is the ability to create groupings within groupings.
If you want to first group by “Species” and then by “Previous Owners”, you would use the following grouping logic:
Per the screenshot above, the larger container in this table represents the PRIMARY grouping (“Species”).
The smaller containers nested within this larger container represent the SECONDARY grouping.
There’s no limit on the number of groupings you can select at the same time.
However, I think you’ll find that anything above two groupings will make your table quite messy…
Show / Hide fields
This function lets you hide and show fields in your base.
It’s useful when you’re trying to make sense of data and want to hide all of the fields that aren’t relevant to your quest.
Using our same kennel example, suppose you find over time that people looking to adopt an animal rarely ask about the number of previous owners it’s had.
So, rather than having this field clutter up your “Animals” table, you simply hide it.
On the rare occasion that you need to reference this field you simply unhide it, get your info, and re-hide it.
This helps you keep your base tidy.
Sorting your records
Airtable also lets you sort the records in a table in the order of your choosing.
If we want to sort our animals by weight, for example, we just create a Sort option for the “Weight (Kg)” field:
Notice that the sorting order in the screenshot above is numerical.
And you can choose whether you’d like the records organized in ascending or descending order.
For text fields, on the other hand, the sorting is alphabetical.
For dates, it’s chronological.
And so forth…
You can do one-time sorts whenever you need to quickly clean up some info.
Or, you can toggle the “keep sorted” button to keep your table permanently sorted in whatever way you choose.
Airtable allows you to set all of your filters, grouping, sorting, visibility and column orders (!) and save them to unique “views”.
The beautiful thing?
Your view will keep all of your preferences without affecting any other view!
For instance, what if you want a quickly accessible table of just “dogs”, or just “cats”?
Normally, you’d use a filter and maybe some grouping to accomplish this.
But if you know you’ll need these tables over and over, you’re better off creating dedicated views for each of them.
Airtable views are so convenient because they let you arrange and save useful collections of data for easy access later.
You can choose from four different view types:
- Grid View – a powerful “spreadsheet” style view. Great for just dumping a ton of data, organizing it, and seeing the big picture. The view we use the most.
- Kanban View – this is your Trello style kanban board. Perfect for task management.
- Calendar View – this view is great for team schedules, project timelines, or even as a personal calendar.
- Form View – the form view lets you create and share forms that populate a table based on whatever conditions you set. Super useful for surveys, and any type of “submission” like guest post requests, performance reviews, and more.
- Gallery View – think of this as a portfolio style view. Big, easy to see cards arranged in a grid. Perfect for any records with images, content ideas, etc.
You can even use views to streamline your entire base.
For instance, we use Views in the “People” table of our MemberFix Control Center to distinguish between team members, customers, and partners:
Each of these views has its own unique set of fields.
So in effect, each view works almost like a separate table. 🙂
What’s even cooler is that you can limit the selection of any linked record type (including “lookup” and “rollup” fields) to a particular view.
We also use views in our content marketing to keep our focus during a quarter, or to track due dates:
The possibilities are endless…
As your base grows and becomes an important part of your business, you’ll find yourself using views a lot.
The wonderful quality that all of these organizational features share is that they’re simple to understand and simple to use.
To me, that’s what makes Airtable so uniquely great.
Not only is it a ridiculously powerful business tool, it’s also quick and intuitive to use at a fairly high level, regardless of how tech savvy you may or may not be.
(For you nerdier readers: there are of course some neat, advanced things you can do that are a bit more complex… ^_^ )
Airtable has an impressive variety of uses.
While it doesn’t make sense for everything, you may be surprised at how many apps in your stack it can replace…
Here at MemberFix we’ve replaced several apps that we used to use—either partially or entirely—with Airtable.
(And we saved some nice coin in the process!)
- Trello (replaced entirely)
- Google Sheets (replaced partially)
- Pipefy (entirely)
- Toggl (entirely)
- Google Calendar (partially)
- PipeDrive (entirely)
…and probably a few others that slip my mind at the moment.
It’s infinitely better to have all, or at least MOST of your business activities running from a single, elegant dashboard.
(As opposed to constantly switching between a bunch of different apps).
Now let’s take a closer look at some of the interesting ways you can use Airtable in your business…
To Do List
Airtable is a great to do list app.
We keep our to-do lists in a table called “Tasks”.
The most important fields in this table are:
- Name – name / brief description of the task
- Priority # – the priority number of the task (1 being the highest)
- Owner – who is responsible for this task
- Notes – additional information about this task
Each team member also has his own view:
Now you may be thinking that managing a to-do list in a grid view is pretty clunky.
And you’d be right…
That’s why we also have Kanban views for each of our team members!
You can set due dates, assign tasks to other team members, include checkbox fields, etc.
You can even create parent tasks and child tasks using linked records that reference the same table.
I’ll often use Airtable on my Android phone as a to-do list if I have a lot of errands to run and want to make sure I don’t forget anything.
There are probably better to do list applications out there.
But I’m willing to accept “good” over “great” if it allows me to run my life and business from a single app.
Here at MemberFix we don’t work on ‘projects’ per se.
Our service is “productized”, which means our activities are based on tasks, not on milestones, deadlines, or deliverables.
As a result, we don’t have a need for true a project management app.
Even our internal projects are pretty modest in terms of scope and moving parts.
(We mostly work on small plugins, articles, videos, and some little tech projects).
However, you absolutely can use Airtable as a lean project management app.
Sure, it may lack some of the heavy-duty features compared to dedicated PM tools but it’s also much simpler.
Take, for instance, the Non-Profit Project Management template below:
If your projects don’t require a massive amount of team coordination, task dependencies, ambitious deadlines, and the like, the base above would easily meet your needs.
On the premium Airtable plan you can also implement so-called “Blocks”.
These give you added functionality like Gantt charts, org charts, 3D modeling, “pivot” tables, and more.
But the good news is that you get the vast majority of functionality you need in Airtable without having to upgrade to the premium plan.
Our team has a small internal project that we’re working on now.
It requires some of the PM features you get with dedicated PM apps like Asana.
But since we all know Airtable, and can recreate most of the features of other apps using a bit of creativity, why do our heads in learning yet another piece of software?
Airtable all the way!
You probably won’t be surprised to learn that we use Airtable as our editorial calendar, too. 🙂
Since we have a whole article on this topic I’ll keep this section short.
In my opinion, the main reason Airtable works so well for managing content production is because of Views.
Views let us virtually “archive” content that is already published without actually removing it from the database.
For instance, as of this writing we’re in Q3 of 2019.
Thus, the only content I care about as Editor in Chief (among the other hats I wear), is the content for this quarter.
So I create a new view with some filters that shows only Q3’s content:
And I whip up a nice calendar view to go with it:
This tells me at a glance what kind of exciting content our team is creating (both articles and videos), when I can expect it to be done, and what kind of progress we’re making.
At the end of the quarter when we do our quarterly team call, we can easily see how we performed on our content KPIs—both as a team and as individuals.
Social Media Calendar
I haven’t made much use of social media for growing and marketing MemberFix.
So I can’t really say how good Airtable might be for this use case.
I would imagine it works nicely, and for the same reasons as the Editorial Calendar.
But from what I’ve seen in the social media marketing space, there are all sorts of automated tools, such as Edgar or Buffer, that send out your posts on a predefined schedule.
Those would be my first choice.
If you’re on a shoestring budget and don’t want to spend money on any apps unless they’re absolutely mission critical, Airtable will still work for this situation.
Team Calendar & Schedule
We use Airtable to manage our team’s schedule.
It works like a charm.
We have an automated message go out to our Slack group every week that reminds our team to set their schedules for the coming week.
As the schedule fills up, everybody can see who’s working and when.
This is especially useful for myself and our operations manager, Viktor because we know ahead of time when we need to fill in for team members who are on vacation.
And we can resolve scheduling conflicts among team members days in advance.
We use Airtable as a lightweight CRM.
This is primarily to do cold outreach to potential partners and customers.
Sure, it’s not as elegant as I’d like in terms of workflow.
But to be fair, I probably could have done a better job of setting up the fields and views.
Maybe I’ll redo it and find a smoother config.
Either way, I’m not too fussed because it does the trick.
It also doesn’t cost us any extra money.
Nor does it require us to use another app (e.g. PipeDrive).
Airtable is perfect for managing inventory.
That’s because compared with a spreadsheet, the risk of having duplicate entries is virtually zero.
Plus, when you update a source record, it will instantly update in all of the linked records that pull data from this source record.
Here’s an example from Airtable’s template library:
If you play with the base above you’ll quickly discover that the linked records feature alone makes Airtable a superior option for any kind of inventory management over spreadsheet solutions.
(To say nothing of the filtering and sorting features…)
I honestly don’t understand how companies can use Google Sheets for stuff like this.
I don’t even know how they can rely on ugly, unintuitive database software even if it’s so called “enterprise level”.
For SMEs who sell services, physical products, coaching, or any kind of offer that has a finite limit on the amount of units people can buy at any given time, Airtable is an ideal solution.
Even if you’re managing a big ass warehouse—especially if you’re managing a big ass warehouse—Airtable will give you most of the enterprise functionality you’d need with an unparalleled ease of use that you’re unlikely to find in bulkier apps.
Airtable is a surprisingly good time tracking solution.
In fact, we track all of the time that we spend working for our MemberFix customers using Airtable in a dedicated “Timesheet” table:
Obviously, you won’t get some of the advanced functionality of apps like Harvest, Toggl, or the Upwork time tracker.
For example, Airtable doesn’t take random screenshots of your team’s screen, or detect mouse inactivity.
It also won’t automatically export timesheets to your accounting software, be it Xoom or Quickbooks, or what have you.
But it does provide a flexible way for your team to make timesheet entries.
Using linked records, you can connect each time sheet entry to a particular customer or ticket.
You can then sort through the data using filters and views.
Having everything in Airtable makes it easier to make good decisions because you can stockpile data, organize it, and analyze it objectively.
You can then use your findings to make data-driven business improvements.
For example, we use a unique, trademark-pending approach called the “per-time” system.
In short, it’s a limit on the amount of time that our team can spend working on any one customer’s tasks within a certain period of time.
Think of it as, “how much time we spend working your tasks PER each 48 hour period”.
(It’s actually a bit more sophisticated than that but let’s keep it simple for now)…
Anyway, we used to have some trouble enforcing this system.
Our team would often go over the allowed time blocks and give our customers double, even triple the time that their plan allows.
This cost the company money in extra billed hours and overtime.
It also created skewed expectations for our customers about how much work they can expect on a given subscription level.
And because of that, it took away the incentive for our customers to upgrade to a higher plan if they needed us to do more work than their current plan gave them.
It wasn’t our team’s fault.
They simply weren’t aware of how much time our customers were receiving.
They had no easy way to see if another team member was doing work at the same time.
Of course, this was a systems problem.
After discussing it with our team we found a pretty simple solution.
We simply created a separate view for each customer in the Timesheet table.
We then sorted each customer’s view by Start Date; most recent entries at the top and oldest entries at the bottom.
Finally, we updated our time-tracking Standard Operating Procedure to require team members to create all new timesheet entries directly in the customer’s view.
This way, each new timesheet entry automatically shoots up to the top of the table (because it’s the most recent one).
And the team member doing the work can easily see if another team member is doing any work at the same time.
OR, if this customer has already received his ‘per time’.
OR, if we somehow missed a customer’s open ticket and didn’t give him enough time (so we can make up for it).
And finally, we can see at a glance how much time and effort our team has given this customer over the past week or so.
Reporting / Reports
There are a lot of ways you can use Airtable for reporting.
For instance, if your team tracks time in Airtable then creating reports for customers—or for your managers—is a piece of cake.
This is exactly what we do for our customers.
We start by creating a new view that only contains a particular customer’s time sheet records.
We then filter, sort, and organize the view to make it tidy.
And finally, we share the view as a private link that he can view anytime.
As our team adds timesheet entries for this customer, his view updates in real time.
So he always sees the latest work we’re doing.
This transparency holds us accountable to our terms.
By the way, this is all possible using just the free version of Airtable.
If you’re on one of the paid plans there’s a whole world of “blocks” to explore that can help you generate more sophisticated, visually stunning reports.
So far we haven’t really needed these advanced features.
But it’s good to know that they’re there.
Payroll is a critical process in any business.
Airtable has not only made our payroll process much easier, we’ve actually managed to almost automate it with a single, well-crafted base.
In the past, I manually calculated each team member’s wages.
Each team member initially started working with us on a different day of the month.
As a result, I was doing payroll calculations and sending payments several times each month.
This process was mundane and distracting, not to mention prone to error.
So shortly after our rockstar Ukrainian operations manager, Viktor, came on board, I tasked him with automating our payroll calculations.
Viktor delivered big time.
He helped transition our payroll system to the European standard.
Now we pay our entire team once per month, on the 2nd of each month.
He also set up a new Payroll table in our control center that automatically pulls in our team’s timesheet entries, paid days off, and other relevant numbers, to automatically calculate how much the company owes our team.
He then documented how he did it in a brilliant article on our blog that you can read here:
Paying our team used to be an annoying, inaccurate and time-consuming task.
Now it takes me all of 15 minutes per month to pay our entire team.
Airtable automatically crunches all of the numbers so there’s no chance of me flubbing a calculation.
We also have an intermediary step where team members review the final amount before approving it (in case they forget to mark a paid day off or add a timesheet entry).
And last but not least, we have a neat, auditable record of our team payments that is internally transparent across our entire organization.
This alone is one of the best things that we’ve ever done in our biz.
Airtable isn’t great for creating documentation.
But it’s perfect for listing and organizing your documentation.
There are oodles of dedicated apps out there—like systemHUB, Process.st, and Pipefy—that help you create and organize your operating procedures.
I’ve personally tried a lot of them.
But at the end of the day our team found Google Drive to be the best solution for creating and storing our SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures).
Using Docs, for instance, we can write and share a process quickly.
Embedding screenshots is a breeze (we use CloudApp).
Once the SOP is finished, we just grab the share link and pop it into our Airtable base.
Now instead of digging through Google Drive folders, our team can just go into the SOPs tab of our control center and find the exact procedures they’re looking for using Airtable’s intuitive sorting and filtering options.
We do the same exact thing for video documentation.
Whether our team members have uploaded their videos to Loom or to Google Drive, or to YouTube, it’s always easy to find the SOPs we need in the dedicated Video SOPs view.
We’ve also found linked records to be awesome for this use case.
We can link SOPs with particular owners from our People table (indicates which team member created the SOP).
We can also link an SOP to a particular customer (i.e. which customer we created this SOP for, if applicable).
You see, sometimes our customers ask us to create SOPs or videos for them.
For instance, we might explain how to do something in a customer’s tech stack—like how to configure a page template, or set up a membership level.
We call these “customer-specific SOPs”.
We’re happy to create these SOPs for our customers because they help remove us as a bottleneck for performing a particular action in their business, or even just understanding how something works.
In fact, it even removes the customer himself as a bottleneck because he can share that SOP with his team or delegate it to another service provider.
Airtable is essentially just a visual relational database.
That means you could use it as the data source for all sorts of cool projects.
For example, we’re working on a WordPress app that functions like a user dashboard.
The dashboard gets populated by data from an Airtable base, although the user doesn’t know that.
When the user interacts with the dashboard in certain predefined ways, those changes get sent back to Airtable and update the corresponding records.
Think of it as a 2-way syncing of data, kind of like the photos on your phone and your iCloud or Google Photos account.
The major benefit of using Airtable as your source database on the admin side is that you can interact with your data directly in Airtable, which is the ideal place to work with it.
It will then pass any changes you make to your destination app.
(Or more accurately, it will only pass the changes you want it to pass to the destination app…)
From the user’s perspective, he gets a cool looking dashboard—or portal, or widget, or whatever kind of thingy you may have built!
And anytime he interacts with this thingy, the thingy automatically updates your source base.
In other words, you can automate actions between Airtable and a target app via the powerful Airtable API.
We recently used Airtable as a source database for a customer.
We created a coupon redemption and tracking system in WordPress similar to how AppSumo’s system works.
It worked out great.
And naturally, our brilliant MemberFix tech Sorin—who conjured up the whole thing—documented it on our blog for your geeky reading pleasure! 🙂
If I could think of one kind of person that absolutely NEEDS Airtable, I would have to say it’s the SEO professional.
Many SEO agencies—some doing huge volumes of business—still manage everything in Google Sheets.
Part of being an SEO means you already have to juggle a ridiculous number of different tools.
But Airtable can most likely help you consolidate a few of them.
While Airtable can’t replace something like Ahrefs, it can certainly replace the Google Sheet you export your Ahrefs data to!
Using private views in Airtable, you can show relevant data and reporting to your customers.
You can also automate intake procedures using Form views in Airtable.
I have quite a bit of SEO experience myself.
And I can’t imagine running an SEO business on any level without Airtable.
But then again, I can’t really think of running any kind of business without Airtable!
Business Control Center
One of the best things I ever did in my business was to create what I call our “MemberFix Control Center”.
It’s our central hub for all business activity.
You can build one too.
And it just might revolutionize your business.
In fact, I’ll show you how! 🙂
Register for our Master Class here (coming soon).
Our control center contains most of our business information, processes, data, time sheets, payroll, etc.
The Control Center has allowed us to quit a handful of apps that we no longer need.
This has saved us money in app subscriptions.
And it continues to streamline our business more as time goes on, and as we find better ways to use it.
Now we spend 90% of our time in only three apps: Airtable, FreshDesk, and Slack.
For a services business like ours—where dozens of moving parts is the norm—Airtable has been a great simplifier.
How can Airtable help you in managing your membership site?
Well, the first thing to remember is that a membership site is a particular business model.
But it’s still a business like any other.
You’ve got staff.
You’ve got customers.
You’ve got different offers that you’re selling.
And you’ve probably got dozens of other types of information to keep track of.
What you DON’T got is one eminently elegant place to dump, organize, and make sense of all that information.
That’s where Airtable comes in…
Callie and Mike over at the Membership Academy (the premier membership site for membership site owners) have even dedicated a whole lesson to Airtable in their training portal:
Airtable Mobile App
Airtable is available for iOS and Android.
But it isn’t as good as the desktop app.
And to be fair, it can’t be.
The screen resolution on a mobile device is just too small to see Airtable bases in their full splendor.
The mobile experience displays your default grid view in what I call “tile” view (middle image in the screenshot below):
All of the other view types are unavailable.
However, the mobile app is still serviceable.
You can do almost everything on mobile that you can do on the main app.
You just can’t see your data in as many different views because of the screen size limitations of a mobile device.
I use the Android app on my Xiaomi Redmi Note 6 Pro.
It’s great for keyword ideas, to create tasks for myself and team members, to check our team’s schedule, check how content is coming along, etc.
I wouldn’t use it for any kind of serious work.
For that you really need to be on a laptop.
But the Airtable mobile app does the trick when you’re on the go.
And that’s good enough for me.
Is Airtable secure?
Yes and no.
In the first place, Airtable explicitly forbids you from storing sensitive information like passwords in your bases.
So Airtable is secure in the sense that even if they got hacked, you (hopefully) wouldn’t have any data in your bases that could be used for malicious purposes.
Of course, not everybody follows the rules.
If somebody decided to store credit card numbers or passwords in an Airtable base, and one day Airtable got hacked, that person might find himself in a bit of legal soup.
As of this writing, and to the best of my knowledge, Airtable has never been hacked.
So is Airtable secure?
Yes, so long as you don’t put any critical data in your bases, Airtable is perfectly secure.
Airtable has become popular and with good reason.
But not everybody has time to figure it out, set it up, and make the best use of it.
Luckily, there is a growing supply of so called Airtable consultants.
In fact, I find myself giving a lot of Airtable consulting to our MemberFix customers when we do our monthly Strategy Sessions.
I’m even working on a course that helps business owners make the best use of Airtable in their organizations.
If I were looking for help with Airtable I’d probably start on Upwork (the screenshot above is from Upwork).
There are a number of alternative apps that compete with Airtable on functionality, look, and feel.
I think the closest of these competitors is probably Notion.
So let’s begin our comparison there.
Airtable vs Notion
Notion bills itself as an all-in-one workspace for notes, tasks, wikis, and databases.
In the databases area, it basically copies Airtable’s functionality.
But it also improves on some of Airtable’s features.
For example, with Airtable there’s currently no way to link between two entirely different bases.
(You can do it but not natively; you need to use Zapier…)
But in Notion you can link between different databases.
One of our customers used to use Notion.
And the more I worked with it, the more I liked it.
But at the same time, I had no particular desire to switch away from Airtable to Notion.
Even though, Notion offers things Airtable doesn’t like the ability to create a team Wiki.
To me, the simplicity of Airtable is what makes it so useful to our business.
Once you start bolting on additional features it becomes too much.
This same customer also asked us to help her migrate away from Notion to Clickup.
While Notion doesn’t allow you to embed Airtable bases in their app, Clickup does.
Clickup has also aggressively released new features to its users.
Notion, on the other hand, promised many features to its users for a long time (such as API functionality) and didn’t deliver.
(I’m paraphrasing our customer’s view of the situation…)
While Notion recently got a funding round—which should speed up development—our customer had already lost faith in the company and moved on to a combination of Clickup and Airtable.
From what I can tell, Notion is a promising team management / project management app.
But if it’s between Notion and Clickup, I’d probably go with Clickup (although we don’t actually use either).
In any case, neither of these apps is really a competitor to Airtable.
Airtable vs Monday
I don’t have any experience with Monday so I can’t speak on this.
What I do know from our design partner Lesly who uses Monday, it’s a pretty slick project management tool.
But like the previous comparison, Monday isn’t really a competitor to Airtable.
It’s a different kind of app (project management rather than database management).
However, as I mentioned earlier in this review, you can absolutely use Airtable for PM.
It’s just not going to have the same bells and whistles.
For a startup that might be perfect.
Airtable vs Zenkit
Airtable vs Notion
Since Airtable and Notion work together in harmony, you can’t really call them competitors.
In fact, one of our customers uses Notion for her team management activities.
And she embeds her Airtable bases into Notion.
This combination suits her quite well.
Airtable vs Trello
We were big Trello users for a long time.
Trello is so intuitive and easy to use.
It’s really a fantastic app.
But once we found Airtable and realized it has a Kanban view, we saw no real reason to keep using Trello.
I admit that Trello is the king of Kanban.
I think it’s a better solution for pure task management than Airtable.
But it’s not so much better that it’s worth cluttering our stack with an extra application.
Airtable does a great job of managing tasks and pipelines, so Trello isn’t really needed.
Plus, Trello isn’t a relational database.
So with Airtable you know how every task relates to a bigger project, or which customer it’s for, etc.
In Trello, the closest thing you have to tying things together are labels.
And even then, the labels work more as categories rather than as linked data sets.
To me, Airtable is the clear winner over Trello.
Airtable vs Clickup
To my mind, Airtable and Clickup aren’t really competitors.
Clickup is more of a competitor to project management tools like Asana and team management tools like Notion.
Whereas Airtable is more of a spreadsheet / database solution.
As a matter of fact, you can use Clickup and Airtable synergistically as one of our customers does.
Airtable vs Google Sheets
Airtable is superior to Google Sheets in most of the important aspects.
But Airtable does lack a few of the features of Google Sheets.
First, Airtable doesn’t macros.
It also doesn’t have a marketplace of free extensions like Sheets does.
But for the majority of Google Sheets users, Airtable is actually a better tool.
The main difference is that Airtable shows you the relationship between your different data points.
And it allows you to filter and sort your info elegantly.
In a Google spreadsheet you almost always wind up with duplicate entries.
This is something that Airtable is designed to help you avoid.
Airtable vs Excel
Excel is pretty much the same as Google Sheets when it comes to functionality.
However, it has one nice feature that Sheets doesn’t have, which is linking between tabs.
So in this sense, Excel is actually a decent competitor to Airtable.
But again, Airtable comes out on top with great UX and amazing filtering opt
Airtable vs Asana
Airtable and Asana aren’t really comparable.
Asana is a dedicated project management tool.
Whereas Airtable is a relational database app.
Asana is for managing large, ongoing projects.
And its functionality reflects that with features like task dependencies.
Asana, like Airtable, has a great API.
This allows you to build connections with other apps and unique workflows.
Asana also has some excellent 3rd party add-ons like InstaGantt.
Airtable offers the same kind of extensibility but isn’t really great for full fledged project management.
Airtable vs Fieldbook
Airtable vs Filemaker
Airtable vs Smartsheet
Airtable vs Coda
Airtable vs Quickbase
Airtable vs Slack
Airtable and Slack do completely different things, although there is a bit of overlap.
Airtable let’s you send @ notifications to other members of your base.
And in this way you can have mini conversations in the app.
But Slack is a dedicated chat program to have in depth conversations with your team.
We use Slack in our business alongside Airtable.
So they don’t so much replace one another as work together synergistically.
Airtable vs Hubspot
Hubspot and Airtable are too different to call them alternatives to each other.
Hubspot is a dedicated marketing and CRM tool.
It can do a lot of thing that Airtable can’t.
But like the other comparisons above, Airtable can work in place of more complicated apps.
If you have a lean enough approach, Airtable can even replace some of Hubspot’s activities in your business.
As I learned when I switched to Infusionsoft (which I later cancelled), sometimes you think you need the big boy app before your business is ready for it.
Airtable is perfect for those grey area decisions because it’s easy for startups but will also grow with you to a high level.
So you don’t have the pressure of upgrading to the big boy app you THINK you’re supposed to have even when you’re not really ready for it.