Notion vs Airtable: Which Modular Productivity App Should You Use

Airtable is a project management tool that combines together a spreadsheet, databases, and templates, etc. Notion on the other hand, does something similar, it’s a knowledge management tool that helps you to organize your ideas (kind of like Evernote) and also comes with database and spreadsheet. On the surface, Notion and Airtable may look similar, but there are subtle differences and both target a different set of users.  Intrigued? Let’s see how Notion differs from Airtable and which one should you choose. Let’s begin.

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Notion vs. Airtable

1. How They work

Think of Notion, as powerful Evernote where everything works in blocks. A block is an area to enter data in a variety of formats like text, image, videos, links, etc. in a variety of ways like boards, sheets, calendars, notes, todos, and so on. Every information you enter forms a block and then you can manipulate that block however you want. You can move it, link to it, delete it, and so on.

Think of Airtable, a big database where everything works inside a base. A base works like a database or a spreadsheet where again, you can input data in a number of formats and manipulate it however you like. Like notion, you can create boards, calendars, and other areas to capture information. Each base has columns and each column can hold data like text, attachments, and so on.

2. How Notion and Airtable Handles Data

This is probably the single biggest difference between these two modular productivity suite. Airtable is database driven where you will be working with a spreadsheet for managing data from different sources. In the example below, you will see multiple sheets open in different tabs, with the option to manipulate that data by different variables. You can also add blocks from the sidebar menu as we saw earlier.

This is how Airtable functions, as a relational database where every piece of data is related to something or someone else. This makes Airtable more suitable for people working in a CRM environment where you have data incoming in variety of formats or sources. For example, contacts and emails from marketing campaigns. You get the picture.

Notion is more about creating a hub of knowledge or a knowledgebase. Sure, you can also create spreadsheets, tag people, pull in data using Zapier like in Airtable, but that’s not its key strength. It’s more suitable for creating Kanban boards, writing articles or creating an entire wiki, and to-do lists.

Notion acts as an online modular document where you can create and capture data in a variety of formats like todo lists, wikis, articles, boards, and even calendars. This gives you more flexibility  and when you tag team members, you can assign roles and responsibilities to them, and check items off as they are taken care of. An easy way to track whats happening across the board, who is working on what, and where do you, as a team stand.

Because Airtable functions like a spreadsheet with rows and columns, it is not suitable for writing long form content or text based notes. You can’t create wikis or write articles. Heck, it is not suitable for taking notes like we do in Evernote and OneNote. On the plus side, you can connect with Salesforce, Trello, and HubSpot among other apps to query data.

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3. Platform and Pricing

Notion is available on the web, Android, iOS, Windows, and macOS. There are extensions for popular browsers. All the features are completely free in Notion for up to 1000 blocks. After that, it will cost you $4 for individuals, $8 per member for teams, and $20 per member for enterprise. Difference? For enterprise plan, you get SAML SSO, dedicated manager, and unlimited version history.

Airtable is also available on all popular platforms on both desktop and mobile like Android, iOS, Windows, and macOS. The free plan restricts records to 1200 and file attachment size to 2GB but includes revision history to two weeks. Plus plan will cost $10 but simply increase various limits. For $20 in Pro plan, you unlock blocks feature plus styling options, password sharing. Enterprise plan unlocks admin controls but the price will depend on your negotiation skills and team size.

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Notion vs. Airtable

Here is how I understand it. Notion is Google Docs on steroids where you can enter data in a variety of formats. Airtable is Google Sheets on steroid where again, you can enter data in a variety of formats. But essentially, one works as a doc to manage knowledgebase while the other works like a database or sheet to manage it. They can both handle teams and support a number of templates and input styles.

How to choose? If you are still confused, try each one for a few days and see which one you find more intuitive, more flexible, easier to use, and meets your particular requirements. Both are powerful modular productivity powerhouse and have their own pros and cons.

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