Airtable is a piece of project management software that promises to be the “one source of truth” for your company. Epistemological concerns aside, we really got to like the program in the course of writing up this Airtable review, and we feel it could belong in our ranking of the best project management software.
Airtable evolved from spreadsheets, much like Smartsheet did (read our Smartsheet review), but it changed with the times a bit better than its competitor. As such, it has a streamlined, modern user interface that borrows from spreadsheets only when necessary and goes its own way where it can.
- Airtable’s free plan is simply great. It offers all kinds of functionality for the price of zero.
- Upgrading is less great, as all it does is increase some usage caps without adding features. At $10 per user per month for the Plus plan, we feel it’s a bit steep.
- Airtable is one of the more user-friendly services we’ve used so far: the user interface is laid out well and the tutorials are clear and to the point.
Unfortunately, though, Airtable won’t crack the top five of the best project management software because there are some issues with pricing and we also feel its features could be a bit more extensive.
That shouldn’t keep you from giving it a spin, though: Airtable offers a free 14-day trial as well as an excellent free plan. You can always switch to our favorite project management service — monday.com — if it doesn’t work out (read our monday.com review to find out why we like it so much).
Airtable is a piece of project management software aimed at marketers and content managers, though it can be used to great effect in other industries as well.
Airtable is better than Google Sheets in keeping track of tasks and projects, but fares worse when it comes to tabulating data.
Yes, Airtable has an excellent free version that offers a host of functionality, and you don’t need anything other than your email address to get started.
Top Alternatives for Airtable
Strengths & Weaknesses
- Flat learning curve
- Great free plan
- Extremely easy to use
- Odd jump in pricing
- Feature set is a bit sparse
Airtable comes with plenty of features right out of the box, and it has a ton of add-ons to choose from in the form of apps. Overall, you’re promised a full suite of functionality when you use Airtable, so we have few complaints.
As you can read in our “pricing” section below, Airtable has four plans, and has divided up its features between them in two sets. First are the free and Plus plans, which have mostly standard functionality, and above that are the Pro and Enterprise plans, which have advanced security and collaboration features.
Airtable Free Version and Plus Plan
We’ll start off by going over the views Airtable offers. As a retooled piece of spreadsheet software, you won’t be surprised to hear that Airtable’s default view — and where you’ll do most of your data entry — is a spreadsheet, called the “grid” view.
Unlike the grid you can read about in our nTask review, though, Airtable’s is a lot more interactive. It’s more like the list view that Asana or monday.com offer.
However, as with most list-type views, the grid view is mainly used as a place to enter data. To get some overview and organize it, you can choose from several options, including the most sparse kanban view we’ve yet come across. While it gets the job done, it won’t be making our list of the best kanban apps.
We’re not sure why the kanban board is so bare: Airtable also has a gallery view that has much more information on the cards, but no good way to organize them. We wish the two had been integrated so we’d have an experience more like that of Trello (Trello review), but it’s not to be.
Small criticism aside, the kanban and grid views together should be more than enough to manage most projects’ workflow. Also, the board’s weaknesses are made up for by the calendar view, which is really good — on par with that of Wrike (read our Wrike review).
Besides the views, the free and Plus plans also offer some other goodies. These include access to Airtable’s excellent integrations, as well as a selection of in-house apps. You’ll also get a limited amount of file storage and revision history; check our pricing section below for the details.
Pro and Enterprise Plans
Generally speaking, the free and Plus plans should be enough for small teams. The Pro and Enterprise plans in the lineup mostly just add functionality for larger organizations, such as setting advanced sharing permissions and app customization. There are also some nifty security options in the Enterprise plan.
What’s surprising is that among these advanced features you’ll find one additional view, the Gantt chart. What’s even more surprising is that it’s really good — on par with dedicated tools like TeamGantt (read our TeamGantt review).
It’s a shame that a view this good has been locked away in the Pro plan, especially as many of Pro’s other features are very specific to certain types of users. That said, we also see how it could be a major selling point for the Pro plan, so there’s that.
Airtable Integrations and Automations
Besides these out-of-the-box features, Airtable offers a large number of integrations. These are developed by Airtable itself as well as third parties, but unlike Trello and Jira, which follow a similar philosophy, Airtable’s add-ons work a little better and add specific tools rather than blanket functionality.
There’s all kinds of add-ons to pick from, including time-tracking tools, a content calendar, apps for relationship management and much, much more. It’s safe to say that if you need it, you can probably find it, though, as with all project management software, the third-party stuff won’t always work as well as advertised.
Another really nifty feature is automation, which allows you to not only integrate other apps, but also automate their use with Airtable’s many features. Though it won’t replace dedicated services like Zapier or IFTTT, it’s pretty cool and available on the free plan; you’re just limited to the amount of times an automation can fire.
With the integrations and automations taken into account, Airtable offers a strong package of features that should keep most teams focused on their tasks.
Airtable Features Overview
- Kanban board
- List: No
- Spreadsheet view
- Gantt charts
- Workload planning: No
- Long-term planning: No
- Multiple project management
- Dependency management
- Native scrum management: No
- Set user permissions
- File storage
- Built-in integrations
- Reporting features
- Free plan
- Free Trial: 14 days
- Web app
- Ticket-based support
- Live chat: No
- Phone support: No
We’re not blown away by Airtable’s pricing. While it’s definitely one of the best free project management tools around, its paid plans ask a lot but give a little. Below is an overview of pricing plans; for a full breakdown, check out Airtable’s pricing page. Please note that for each person you invite to Airtable, you can earn a $10 credit.
- All views (except Gantt), 1,200 record, 2GB file storage
- 5,000 records, 5GB storage
- Gantt view, 50,000 records, 20GB storage
The main difference between the free and Plus plan is the allotment of records and storage you have. There’s no real difference in features between the two, meaning that you won’t have to upgrade until your team outgrows the limits of the free plan. This is a good deal, but the Plus plan feels a bit overpriced at $10 per user per month (annually) without any additional features.
That said, it’s on par with monday.com’s pricing and Trello’s pricing, and definitely beats the latter. When compared to monday.com, however, we are inclined to swing toward that provider as it offers more bang for an equal buck.
As for the Pro and Enterprise plans, they look decent enough, but we’re not sure if Gantt charts and some extra security features truly merit the extra expenditure. If you look at Asana’s pricing, for instance, you get a lot more for just a few bucks per user per month extra. It really depends on what your organization needs, in the end.
Airtable Free Trial
The good news is that if you’re on the fence, the Plus and Pro plans come with a 14-day free trial you can use to check them out. All you need to sign up is your email address, so just go to the pricing page and click on the “try for free” button to get started.
Overall, Airtable is very easy to use and the learning curve is almost non-existent, thanks to a clearly laid out interface and great tutorials. Though sometimes it feels a bit like you’re clicking too much, we can’t really fault the user experience. If you need an easy-to-use task management tool, it’s definitely a contender.
Getting Started With Airtable
Signing up to Airtable is pretty easy: on the website’s main page, click on the “sign up for free” button, which unsurprisingly signs you up to the free plan. Or you can choose the free trial of the plan you fancy via the pricing page. In either case, you’ll be asked to provide your email address and some details before being dumped into the main screen.
From here, you have a number of things you can do, and we like all of them. We wish every project management tool made it this easy to get started with their product (looking at you, Smartsheet). You can either start with some pre-made templates, or even import an old project from another platform, provided it was based on tables.
However, the smart money is on following Airtable’s tutorials, which are accessed using the main screen. They’re pretty extensive, and going through them should have you off to a running start. In most cases, a chapter in the tutorial consists of a video recap as well as a longer written article full of tips and tricks.
However, if you’re the impatient type, you can also delve straight into making your own projects without using guides or templates. In that case, Airtable is ready to assist you with some handy tooltips as well as short explainer videos. Both work well enough, though they’re not nearly as comprehensive as the guides due to their brevity.
When you use Airtable for the first time, you’ll quickly notice its excellent presentation: everything is right there where you need it, and there are very few of the annoyances, like menus within menus, that we see with some of its competitors. There’s a lot to like here, but we’ll go over a few things we weren’t crazy about.
For one, Airtable uses some different terminology than most other project management software. This may take some getting used to if you’re coming from another program, like Asana or Trello, though the problem isn’t as bad as in Jira. (Read our Jira review to see how bad jargon can get.)
For example, Airtable is organized into “workspaces,” which can each have an unlimited number of “bases,” or projects. This organization makes managing multiple projects pretty easy — a big plus for Airtable.
Tasks in Airtable are called “records,” and the term “workflow” is used for the more general way in which you channel your efforts — it doesn’t mean automation like it does with Zapier or Integromat. You get used to it soon enough, though.
Creating new records and shifting between views is pretty easy, though it feels a bit cumbersome: you click on the tab for views, then select one from the field that pops up in the left-hand toolbar. This could have been handled a bit more smoothly.
Many of the other menus are much the same, so if you need to alter a lot of records or set up new apps, get ready for a tired wrist. Still, though, Airtable meets our main criterion of a well laid-out interface. You’ll never spend more than a second or two looking for the tab you need, and we’re more than happy to recommend Airtable for its user experience.
Airtable also offers a mobile app for iOS and Android. It’s decent, but like most other project management tools’ mobile clients, it suffers from a simple shortage of space for all the information it offers. As such, it’s great for quickly checking a detail, but we wouldn’t recommend it for full-time use.
Security & Privacy
Much the same goes for security. Airtable uses AWS to host its files, meaning that your files are protected in transit as well as encrypted using AES-256 when on the server. Besides the risk of leaky AWS buckets, your data is as safe as houses.
The company seems to have a good track record, with no known security breaches or the like. However, there seem to be some issues with the permission you give to third-party apps when you create automations; so, as always, make sure to be very careful which apps you give access to. We talk about this issue some more in our IFTTT guide.
We really like the Airtable support. As we mentioned in the user-friendliness section, its tutorials are excellent and do a great job of flattening the learning curve, so you’re off to a great start. However, if you do run into trouble along the way, Airtable generally gets you out of it without too much effort.
The first stop whenever you run into an issue should be the knowledgebase, accessed from the main screen. The list of subjects is long, and all the articles explain their subjects clearly — often with video, as well.
If somehow this doesn’t help you, you can try the Airtable Community, a forum where fellow users as well as Airtable staff congregate. A quick look shows that most queries are answered promptly and thoroughly, so you should be all right.
Finally, you can reach out to support directly via a ticketing system; there’s no live chat or phone support. Generally speaking, answers take a few hours, but are pretty detailed and helpful. We doubt you’ll have any questions left after going past all three stations, and give Airtable high marks here.
While there is a lot to like about AIrtable, especially its free plan, it’s kept from the upper reaches of our project management reviews due to its odd pricing and wishy-washy privacy and security. We also miss some more advanced features that you can find in monday.com or Asana, though they may not be a deal breaker to some.
All that said, we still recommend you give Airtable a spin. It has a great 14-day trial of the Pro plan, and its free features are pretty good. What do you think of Airtable? Did we hit the nail on the head or miss it entirely? Let us know in the comments below and, as always, thank you for reading.