Airtable vs. Notion Comparison – 2023
Airtable and Notion are two popular tools that can be used for productivity and, to an extent, project management. Both offer users a free plan with a limited range of features and paid plans targeted at larger teams with more complex needs. Although these tools share similarities, there are also a lot of differences. In this comparison, we’ll break down each one’s strengths and weaknesses so you can assess which is better for your needs.
Airtable is as much a database as it is a project management tool. Although it can be used for managing workflows or assigning tasks, it’s really designed for centralizing data so that teams can easily access it for things like building apps, tracking projects, or creating automation like triggered emails. What gives Airtable an edge is its integration and automation features, which are both user-friendly and highly intuitive for updating data or simplifying tasks. You can get started with Airtable for free on their basic plan.
Notion is essentially a note-taking tool that users can use to manage projects and workflows in a team. Compared to most project management software, Notion is highly customizable, with a huge range of templates and building blocks, including galleries, calendars, and lists. Notion shines when it comes to flexibility and detail, making it possible for users and teams to create detailed company wikis with any layout they choose. You can get started with Notion for free.
Airtable and Notion Compared to the Best Project Management Software
Below you’ll find our Golden Eggs, the top project management tools we chose as our favorite based on research and reviews. Neither Airtable nor Notion made the list, but they’re powerful tools you should consider for your needs.
Monday.com is a great tool for keeping things simple and onboarding new team members, making it our favorite choice for people new to project management. You can get started today for free.
ClickUp is the best option for remote workers and teams, with excellent collaboration and powerful customization features. Sign up for free today.
Smartsheet is perfect for people who like using spreadsheets and need something with database features. Get started with their free plan now.
Airtable Compared to Notion
Let’s start by breaking down what each tool does and its best features. Both Airtable and Notion are much more than just project management (PM) software, so let’s take a look at what makes each one worth using.
Airtable has so many features and tools that it can function as a complete system for project management and team collaboration. The key feature of Airtable is its database, which is great for collecting and managing data like customer details, due dates, and task assignments. Airtable databases can be created or updated by importing data from other platforms, which is ideal when onboarding clients or quickly updating large amounts of data.
Airtable also includes an impressive range of native integration and automation features, which are best used within teams to streamline operations and make updating databases easy and coordinated. This automation includes things like triggered emails and forms. The integrations include Salesforce and Google Workspace, which help teams save money on Zapier and partner with clients already using other software.
Airtable also includes targeted PM features, with solutions specifically designed for marketing, product, operation, and HR teams. From features like reporting and managing deliverables to collecting customer feedback and syncing data from calendars or other tools, Airtable has solutions for any team or industry.
Notion is an excellent tool, especially for individuals and teams. Notion provides almost unrivaled freedom for individuals or small teams to customize it to their needs and a simple interface that cuts out the noise and helps with prioritization. For bigger teams, Notions’ wiki sections make it simple to keep company information centralized, and it offers an easy solution for things like onboarding new hires or sharing client project notes.
For PM, Notion includes roadmap building blocks that help teams plan projects from start to finish by importing data, managing calendars, or assigning tasks. You can also integrate with other tools like Jira and Github using a synced database without leaving Notion, so you can stay in one tool for an entire project without losing data from other software. This also makes it easier for users to collaborate with clients using their own tools or databases.
Airtable vs. Notion: Pros and Cons
While neither Airtable nor Notion started as project management software, they’ve grown into key competitors in that space. They are so versatile that many users don’t need to use other PM-specific software. However, both have benefits and drawbacks, so let’s break down the pros and cons of each so you can assess whether either is right for your needs.
Where Airtable Shines
Interface: The core of Airtable is its database, with each individual database called a “base” with various interfaces. The customizable interface is incredibly sophisticated and intuitive. Every base has templates and built-in features, including due dates or task assignments. You can also change each base into different views, such as Kanban, timeline, and grid, and can be color coded. There’s also a search feature that makes it easy to navigate databases, which might not be something you’d find with other database tools or even most project management tools.
Automation: One of Airtable’s biggest strengths is its automation features, where users can trigger actions internally and externally, saving teams time and reducing the need for other tools. Teams are always kept up to date because when a change is made in any base, the other synced bases are automatically updated, too. Users can add automation to notify team members via Slack or email when there are changes. Automation can also be external, such as triggering social media posts with updates, actions, or specific dates.
Integration: Airtable includes native integrations to tools like Google Workspace, Slack, and WordPress, so users don’t need to rely on third-party tools like Zapier. Many of these are native integrations, so you don’t need to do any coding to set them up, making it easy to move work from other platforms into Airtable or bring clients into the workflow.
Reporting: Airtable has a pretty sophisticated reporting and tracking system, where you can see a detailed log of what changes are being made and by who. It’s also easy to pull and analyze data directly from your dashboard with reporting extensions like bar charts, pivot tables, and base schemas. This gives users a clear idea of what is working in a project and hard data to show to clients during a project’s lifetime.
Import Features: Airtable lets you import, export, and migrate data in the platform, so you can centralize all your databases and update existing information with the data you already have. Airtable has over 25 integrated sources you can export from, including contacts, Google Sheets, CSV, and Trello. It’s very intuitive when importing data, and you can then edit or customize field names or properties.
Where Airtable Needs Improvement
Customization: This is a little bit nitpicky because compared to the majority of project management software, Airtable does have a lot of customization options, and when compared to other database tools like Google Sheets or Excel, it’s a mile ahead. However, when you look at Airtable versus Notion, there’s no competition–most of Airtable’s modules and extensions are fixed, as are most of its templates, while Notion offers users complete freedom and flexibility.
Note-Taking: Because Airtable is, at its essence, a database that you can use for project management, there isn’t a lot of room for note-taking. Although you can change from grid views to Kanban views, you wouldn’t necessarily want to add tons of notes to an Excel spreadsheet, and it’s the same with Airtable. If you have lots of project content or a company wiki, Airtable will be a lot less intuitive than Notion.
Learning Curve: Most software has a bit of a learning curve. However, because Airtable has a database model, it can be challenging for new or external users to navigate. There’s so much information and data that even with Kanban or gallery views, finding specific tasks and data can get messy or finicky. There’s also some learning curve in customizing the tool and figuring out all the filters and views to get exactly what you need. But if you’re a fan of spreadsheets and have a lot of data, Airtable can certainly help store and organize it.
Where Notion Shines
Flexibility: Without question, the main strength of Notion is its customization features and its flexibility. Users can literally create anything, especially within content, including galleries, lists, graphs, images, or even videos. This makes it versatile for internal and client work because users can do things like share files or embed videos easily, which is not something you can do with most other PM software.
Feature Uses: Because of the high level of customization and the range of options included with Notion, like videos, file sharing, wikis, tables, and graphs, many people find that Notion replaces a considerable number of other business tools. Considering the price point, having one centralized place for databases, team communication, roadmaps, video sharing, and budgeting is impressive.
Content Creation: As a platform that started as a note-taking app, it’s to be expected that when it comes to creating, organizing, and sharing content, Notion is arguably the best project management software out there. Teams can create internal wikis that are very complicated and in-depth while still being easy to read and navigate. You can easily add notes, lists, files, and comments to any project stage. It’s much easier to add long pieces of content in Notion than in other PM tools, so for large teams trying to onboard or create company wikis, Notion is a clear choice.
Collaboration: Because Notion is so customizable and flexible, sharing content in different forms and collaborating with teams is incredibly easy. Users can add comments anywhere within a project or database, and team members are notified whenever they’re mentioned in a comment. You can also share files, including documents, images, graphs, reports, and videos, which isn’t always an option in other tools.
Dashboard Views: Notion offers teams different types of views, including Kanban and calendars. Not only are these views great for groups working on different kinds of projects, but they are as highly customizable as Notion’s list of content blocks and more customizable than other project management software.
Where Notion Needs Improvement
Customization: Although we’ve stated that the flexibility and customization of Notion is a primary strength, it’s also an area that could be improved, specifically for project management. Because there’s so much you can do and change in Notion, it can be a little harder for teams to get up and running or structure projects than Airtable. Even though there are templates, Notion’s focus on giving users complete flexibility can slow down new teams who just want to launch a project and jump straight into a structured dashboard. Plus, some users may experience decision paralysis with so many options.
Goal Tracking: Notion doesn’t have a great range of goal-tracking features, so for teams that need workflows to keep them accountable, Notion may not be as good of an option as Airtable. Because Notion is so focused on letting users create their own content, it can sometimes lack the accountability features that keep project success measurable.
The Last Word on Airtable Compared to Notion
Considering both Airtable and Notion offer feature-rich free plans and were initially designed to solve other productivity issues, they’re impressive as project management tools, and we would happily recommend either one.
Still, if you’re looking for a tool that helps you manage data and then use that to fuel or organize projects, or if automation is important to you, Airtable is probably the better choice. If flexibility and using different content forms are crucial, or you know you’ll add a company wiki, you won’t find a better tool than Notion.
Airtable and Notion are great picks for project management, but there are also plenty of others to choose from. We’ve written a detailed review of our favorite picks based on hours of research and testing. We broke down the tools by who we think each one is best suited for, and detailed our criteria for choosing each one in our full review on the best project management software.