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WWW… Wednesday! Airtable

by Taylor Slattery | December 16, 2020

There are a few things that are key to the success of modern businesses of any size. They need to be organized and have collaborative systems in place for communication and delegation. Also key is data analysis, preferably with as much as possible automated to ensure that time is spent on tasks that move the needle. Organization is at the heart of getting things done. It’s the biggest and most important of these necessary components, as it encompasses every other aspect of a business. Having a clear view of the destination and a plan outlining the steps towards its completion allows us to measure our progress and adjust to accommodate changes. Without a proper system for organizing information, things can quickly spiral out of control.

When the pandemic first started, many operations were caught off guard. They desperately tried to cobble together a set of tools to carry on working in the way they were accustomed to. Oftentimes this meant employing several tools, each specializing in a certain task, and dividing the work between each. Depending on the integrations available within the apps of such a system, keeping organized across them all can prove to be difficult. With a number of people working remotely for the first time, there’s bound to be a learning curve, but it’s important to find tools that are user-friendly enough to not cause a full-scale panic attack for someone who finds themselves working alone for the first time.

Thankfully, a wave of low-code and no-code tools are helping to make this transition much easier. Airtable is a platform for building collaborative apps that utilizes a format most are already familiar with, the spreadsheet. It’s grown in popularity and utility since its creation 8 years ago, thanks to its clever fusion of the power of a database with the familiarity of a spreadsheet. Unlike traditional databases, it requires no knowledge of SQL or any coding for that matter. Airtable is hard to define because its utility is such that how you use it depends entirely on what you need and the limits of your creativity.

Airtable employs six different components that work in tandem to organize users’ data. Together, they work like a series of nesting folders. Workspaces house collections of related data, which Airtable refers to as Bases. Bases, in turn, are composed of Tables. The relation between the two is similar to that of a Workbook and Worksheet for those familiar with Excel. The tables themselves consist of Fields (columns) and Records (rows) and will look most familiar to those with experience using spreadsheets.

It’s in this simple architecture that the genius lies. These components are incredibly flexible in use and can be made to work for a variety of different tasks. Whether your goal is simple scheduling and task delegation, or something more complex like data analysis or tracking a marketing campaign, Airtable has the tools to make it happen. For those looking for a more linear outlook, Tables can be viewed as calendars or kanban boards to better visualize tasks and deadlines. To gain insights into your data, Airtable offers apps and automation that can supercharge your database. There are templates for all sorts of projects, so regardless of your use case, Airtable has you covered. It’s free to get started with more advanced features and storage included with monthly subscriptions. You can learn more and try it out for yourself here.


Taylor is the Managing Editor of Notes on Design. Taylor is a graphic designer, illustrator, and Design Lead at Weirdsleep.


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