4 Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Build a Database

March 29, 2022

Everything on the Internet is built on databases. Twitter is a database with users, tweets, images, and time stamps. Airbnb is a database with cities, homeowners, renters, and flats. Every blog is a database with titles, authors, and text blocks.

The same goes for each and every company in the world. You need a place to store your information.

Here are 4 questions to ask yourself before you build a database:

How is the data gathered?

Entering data manually is so 2007. Today you can connect your CRM, newsletter service, and sales system to your database and populate it automatically.

Form builders such as Tallyform or Typeform can work as databases themselves, but also easily be connected to Google Sheets and such.

Using interactive forms is a great way to get information from different people within the company, instead of giving them access to the entire database and risking it turning into a mess. Think about where the data will be coming from, and if it is possible to add it automatically to your database.

Who will look at the data?

In its simplest form, a database can be shown as a simple Excel file (booooring) that you access to enter and read data. But you are probably looking for something a bit more advanced than that. Depending on who will want access to the database, it needs to be presented in the right way.

A stakeholder or supervisor might not need all the information, but just the 10 000 feet view. A filtered Notion database could be a great way to do that.

If you are planning on making the entire or part of the database publicly available, Trello can present it in a neat way, using the Kanban view. Adding a second layer, such as Softr, you can even make an entire website from your Airtable base.

What will we need to add in the future?

All companies are changing and growing. It is a good idea to have an idea of what the future would look like. The database will be able to handle an almost unlimited amount of data. It is not the amount you need to worry about, but the type of data and more importantly how they are connected.

Will you be opening offices in other cities? Countries?
Do you want to connect files, videos, or such to certain database items?
What is the level of security needed in the future?

Having an idea of what the future might look like, will make that future much easier when it comes.

Where in the workflow does the database plug in?

Map out all the points where the information in the database could be needed by someone in the company. This requires the ability to find and pinpoint problems and bottlenecks. Localizing them though will save a lot of time and effort.

When you know the touchpoints, you can start working on automating them. Both input and output should require as little manual labor as possible.

Your database is the brain of your entire business. It should store all important information, and give you access to it as seamlessly as possible.

More articles