Try Interactive Demo
Online Database Software: Use Knack For Custom Online Databases & Systems
In the ever-evolving tech landscape, no-code application development has emerged…
In today’s fast-paced digital landscape, businesses are constantly seeking innovative…
Template Marketplace
Online Database Software: Use Knack For Custom Online Databases & Systems
Track current inventory by managing shipments and orders.
Retain customers by offering a self-serve portal.

Types of Databases: 2 Ways to Create an Online Database Easily in 2023

  • Written By: Cheyenne Kolosky
Types of Databases: 2 Ways to Create an Online Database Easily in 2023

In today’s digital age, databases play a pivotal role in our daily lives. From social media platforms to e-commerce websites, databases are the backbone of countless applications and systems. 

That is why understanding the importance of databases is crucial for anyone involved in technology, business, or decision-making roles. This article will provide a comprehensive overview of database design and its significance for your business. But, let’s start with the basics. 

What is a Database?

A database is an organized collection of data structured in a way that allows efficient storage, retrieval, and manipulation of information. With adequate database design, businesses can:

  • Streamline operations
  • Enhance the decision-making processes
  • Ensure the accuracy and accessibility of the data
  • Improve data quality
  • Reduce redundancy
  • and provide a solid foundation for data-driven applications.

So, it really is a tool that you can implement into your business that could drive your growth. But to better understand what a database is, and essentially how to design it, you will also need to understand the basic concepts that come with designing a killer database. So let’s get into further detail. 

The 4 Basic Concepts of Database Design 

There are multiple elements that come with database design. However there are three key elements that you must get familiarized with. Here is a breakdown of those four elements and what purpose they have in database design. 

ElementPurpose Example
TableTables are the foundation of the database that consist of rows and columns like this one. In a customer database, a table might have columns for the customer’s information, and each row would represent a unique customer.
Field or RecordFields, or records, store individual pieces of data within a table and hold the values for each attribute.In the customer table, the field for customer name might contain values like “John Smith”.
RelationshipsRelationships between tables establish connections and dependencies enabling data querying capabilities.In a relational database, a relationship might exist between a customer table and an order table which ensures that each order is associated with the correct customer.
Data IntegrityData integrity ensures that the data is accurate and consistent.Database constraints can be used to enforce rules such as unique values or referential integrity between related tables, like user authentication and access control.

Now that you understand what a database is and the basic concepts, you can determine if a database would be an asset to organizing your data.  And when it comes down to creating it, there are two approaches you could take. So let’s get into them so you can decide which best fits your needs. 

Relational Database Vs. Non-Relational Database: Which Approach is Better? 

When it comes to database design, two primary approaches dominate the industry: relational databases and non-relational databases. Let’s break down what each of the approaches are about and some of their pros and cons. 

Type of DatabaseRelational DatabaseNon-Relational Database 
What it isRelational databases follow a structured format where data is organized into tables with predefined relationships.Non-relational databases are schema-less and store data in a variety of formats.
Used for Scenarios that require complex data relationships and transactions.Scenarios where data access patterns are unpredictable or require high-speed data retrieval.
ExamplesMySQLPostgreSQLMongoDBCassandra
ProsEasily manipulate data Use of constraints which ensures that data meets certain criteriaCompliant with the ACID (Atomicity, Consistency, Isolation, and durability) propertiesYou can scale horizontally allowing for distributed data storage.Handle high traffic loadsAccommodate growing data volumes without sacrificing performance. Allows for efficient querying and retrieval of data. 
ConsNot as flexibleNot as scalable They may sacrifice consistency in favor of performance. 

Though, neither of these design principles may be necessary given that we are in the 21st century and no-code online database builders are extremely common. If you aren’t interested in designing from scratch, then let’s take a look at what no-code can do for your business. 

The 6 Reasons to Consider No-Code Online Databases

No-code online database platforms, like Knack, Airtable or Bubble, provide a user-friendly environment for creating and managing databases without the need for any coding expertise.

This empowers individuals and small businesses to develop powerful databases quickly and effortlessly. And there are a lot of benefits to using no-code, but here are the main ones: 

  1. Easy to use | They offer a drag-and-drop interface that enables you to design custom workflows, define relationships, and create forms and views. 
  2. Easy Collaboration | They offer seamless collaboration features, allowing team members to work together in real-time. 
  3. Pre-built Templates | They offer a wide range of pre-built templates and integrations with other tools and platforms you already use. 
  4. Great Scalability | They offer great scalability without any coding hassle. 
  5. Easy Storage | Databases allow you to easily create a database to store and manage customer information. 
  6. Automations | Databases allow you to automate tasks and workflows which saves you time and effort. 

From their user-friendly interface to their automation capabilities and integrations, these platforms empower individuals and small businesses to create and manage powerful databases without the need for coding expertise. 

Whether you’re a solo entrepreneur or part of a team, a no-code online database can revolutionize the way you handle data and streamline your workflows. But let’s get into what the actual creation process could like from start to finish so you also take it into consideration. 

Conceptual Design: The 4 Steps to Planning Your Database

Before diving into database design, proper planning is crucial to ensuring a solid foundation as this phase lays the groundwork for the logical and physical design stages. Here is a quick rundown of what goes down during the stage of conceptual design. 

Step 1 | Gather the Data 

Stakeholders, including end-users, managers, IT professionals, and database designers must first gather the requirements for the database including entities, attributes, and relationships. This information serves as a blueprint for the subsequent stages of the database design process.

Step 2 | Identify Key Entities

Identifying key entities is a critical step in the conceptual design process. Entities can be:

  • Tangible objects, such as customers or products
  • or intangible concepts, such as orders or invoices. 

By identifying these entities, the database designer can determine the necessary attributes to include in the database schema.

Step 3 | Define Relationships between Entities

Defining relationships between entities is another crucial aspect of conceptual design. Relationships can be one-to-one, one-to-many, or many-to-many, depending on the nature of the entities involved. These relationships help establish the structure and integrity of the database.

Step 4 | Create an Entity Relationship Diagram (ERD)

The last step is to create an entity-relationship diagram which provides a visual representation of the database’s structure, making it easier to understand and communicate. It showcases the entities as rectangles, attributes as ovals, and relationships as lines connecting the entities.

During the collaboration between stakeholders and database designers, the ERD may undergo several iterations to refine and finalize the design. Feedback and input from all parties involved are crucial to ensuring that the database meets the requirements and expectations of the end-users.

By investing time and effort into the conceptual design stage, you can lay a solid foundation for the subsequent stages of database design. As the next step, the logical design, will heavily depend on the end result of the conceptual design. 

Logical Design: The 5 Steps to Creating Your Database 

The logical design phase is where the conceptual model transforms into a fully defined structure. It involves translating the ERD into a formal representation of tables, fields, keys, and relationships. Here is how to go about your logical design: 

Step 1 | Data Normalization 

Data normalization is a vital aspect of database design that eliminates redundancy and minimizes data anomalies.The data normalization process involves organizing data into multiple tables, each serving a specific purpose. By reducing redundancy and ensuring that each table stores only relevant data, normalization helps to prevent data inconsistencies and anomalies.

Step 2 | Analyze Entities and Attributes

During the logical design phase, designers meticulously analyze the entities and attributes identified in the conceptual model and determine which entities will become tables and which attributes will become fields within those tables, as well as establishing the relationships between them. 

Step 3 | Consider the Constraints 

The next step is a careful consideration of the cardinality and participation constraints identified in the conceptual model. By accurately representing these constraints, designers ensure that the database can effectively store and retrieve data in a meaningful way.

Step 4 | Identify Primary and Foreign Keys 

Another important aspect of logical design is the identification and definition of primary and foreign keys. Primary keys uniquely identify each record in a table, while foreign keys establish relationships between tables.

Step 5 | Consider Performance Optimization 

During the logical design phase, designers also consider performance optimization. They analyze the expected volume of data, the types of queries that will be executed, and the relationships between tables to design an efficient database structure. 

The logical design phase is a crucial step in the database design process. By carefully crafting a logical design, database designers lay the foundation for a robust and efficient database system. They will then be ready to move onto the implementation. 

Physical Design: The 5 Steps to Database Reality

Once the logical design is complete, the focus shifts to the physical design of the database. The physical design involves determining how the data will be stored, indexed, and accessed. These are the steps of the physical design phase: 

  1. Select the appropriate storage media
  2. Define data types and sizes
  3. Create indexes and partitions for improved query performance.
  4. Optimize the database schema
  5. And ensure data security 

But now that you know the exact steps to take in order to design a killer database, the question arises: what do you use to design and implement a stellar database? There are really two routes you can take; the quick and dirty one, or the quick and smart one.  

The Quick & Dirty: The 5 Steps to a Basic Database Design

In some scenarios, a quick and dirty solution like Google Sheets or Excel,  is sufficient for creating a simple database. Users can:

  • Create tables
  • Define fields
  • and establish basic relationships between tables. 

While these platforms lack the comprehensive features and scalability of traditional databases, they can serve as effective solutions for projects with limited requirements. So let’s take a closer look at how they can be used for database design.

Step 1 | Create Your Tables

Both Google Sheets and Excel provide the ability to create tables which allows users to organize their data into rows and columns, making it easier to manage and analyze. Tables can also be customized with different formatting options to enhance readability and clarity.

Step 2 | Define The Fields

In order to store data effectively, it is important to define fields within the tables. For example, if you are designing a customer database, fields could include name, address, email, and phone number. Users can specify the data type for each field to ensure data consistency and accuracy.

Step 3 | Establish The Relationships

While Google Sheets and Excel Collaboration Docs may not have the same level of functionality as dedicated database management systems, it is still possible to establish basic relationships between tables. This can be done by linking related fields in different tables, allowing users to retrieve and analyze data from multiple tables simultaneously.

Step 4 | Establish a Collaboration Protocol 

Google Sheets or an Excel Collaboration Doc for database design offers the ability to collaborate with others in real-time. Multiple users can work on the same document simultaneously, making it easier to:

  • Gather input with a fraction of the time
  • Make changes and correct errors easily
  • and ensure data consistency. 

This collaborative feature is especially beneficial for small-scale projects where team members need to coordinate their efforts.

Step 5 | Analyze Data

While Google Sheets and Excel Collaboration Doc may not offer advanced data analysis capabilities, they do provide basic functions and formulas that can be used to perform calculations and generate insights. Users can leverage these features to analyze their data and make informed decisions based on the results.

Google Sheets and Excel Collaboration Docs can be valuable tools for quick and dirty database design. However, it is important to note that these platforms may not be suitable for large-scale projects or those requiring complex data management. So let’s look at the quick and smart way to design a database. 

The Quick and Smart Way: The 5 Steps to Designing Your Database with Knack 

For users seeking a more structured approach to database design, Knack provides pre-built templates and customizable web applications that cater to various industries and use cases.

With Knack, users can leverage their templates for rapid database development while maintaining a professional and streamlined design. So let’s look at how Knack has found the quick and smart way to database design! 

Step 1 | Select Your Pre-Built Template 

Knack’s templates are designed to suit different industries, such as:

  • Real estate
  • Healthcare
  • Education
  • and more. 

These templates serve as a great starting point for users who want to quickly set up a database without having to start from scratch. By using a template that aligns with their industry, users can save time and effort when designing the initial structure of their database.

Step 2 | Fill in the Predefined Fields

Furthermore, these templates come with pre-defined fields and layouts that are relevant to each industry. You can fill these out and decide which to choose for your database which will also save you time and effort. 

For example, the real estate template may include fields for property details, listing status, and contact information, while the healthcare template may include fields for patient records, medical history, and appointment scheduling.

Step 3 | Customize Your Template 

Whether it’s adding custom fields, creating new relationships between tables, or rearranging the layout of data entry forms, Knack’s user-friendly interface makes it easy for users to tailor the template to their liking.

So, if you don’t find a pre-built template that fits your company’s needs, you can choose a close option and fix it to your liking. The best part is that this will take you less time then building a database from scratch. 

Step 4 | Select Your Collaboration Protocol 

Knack allows multiple users to work on the same database simultaneously, making it convenient for teams to collaborate and make real-time updates. This ensures that everyone is on the same page and reduces the risk of data inconsistencies. 

You will have to assign collaboration protocols to your team members and provide proper training, but this will save your team a lot of confusion in the long haul. So, make sure that every single stakeholder that needs to access the database is informed on these protocols. 

Step 5 | Check the Mobile-Responsiveness

Knack’s templates and web apps are designed to be mobile-responsive which means that the databases can be accessed and used on various devices, including smartphones and tablets. This flexibility allows users to manage their data and applications on the go, increasing productivity and efficiency.

Be sure to check the mobile-responsiveness so that this feature isn’t wasted. With collaborative features and mobile responsiveness, Knack empowers users to create professional and streamlined databases that enhance productivity and efficiency.

Once your database is created, there are a few steps you need to take to ensure that it’s running up to date. So let’s get into a bit more detail. 

The 14 Tips to Test & Optimize Your Database

After implementing the database, it is vital to consider maintenance. Here are a few tips to implement before going live and ensuring that it’s working correctly.

  1. Establish your objectives | Define clear objectives before starting the development process.
  2. Create a plan | Create a detailed plan and sketch out the app’s structure and user interface to visualize the end product.
  3. Keep it simple | Focus on simplicity and avoid unnecessary complexity in your app’s design.
  4. Keep your user in mind | Design your app with the end-users in mind, prioritizing usability and intuitive navigation.
  5. Get pre-built templates | Consider templates offered by the no-code platform to accelerate development.
  6. Be consistent | Use a consistent design language throughout your app to enhance the user experience and visual appeal.
  7. Check mobile-responsiveness | Ensure your app is mobile-friendly and responsive to provide a seamless experience across different devices.
  8. Test your database | Conduct rigorous testing at each stage of development to identify and fix any issues or bugs.
  9. Monitor your database | Monitoring enables administrators to identify and resolve performance bottlenecks, security vulnerabilities, and data inconsistencies. 
  10. Optimize your database | Periodic optimization of database configurations, indexes, and query execution plans helps maintain optimal performance and scalability
  11. Implement data security | Implement robust security measures like encryption, to protect user data and ensure compliance with relevant regulations.
  12. Create Manuals | Maintain comprehensive documentation that outlines the app’s features, functionality, and user instructions.
  13. Create error handling protocols | Implement effective error handling mechanisms to provide clear error messages and guidance to users.
  14. Consider scalability | Design your app to accommodate future growth and scalability by building modular and flexible components.

With these tips in mind you will be ready to create, implement and maintain a killer database. This will help you not only organize and store your data in a more efficient manner, but also help you drive your growth. 

The Art and Science of Database Design

The importance of databases cannot be overstated in today’s data-driven world. Effective database design enables businesses to manage and leverage their data efficiently, leading to improved decision-making, streamlined processes, and a competitive edge.

Understanding the fundamental concepts of database design, such as relational and non-relational models, and leveraging modern tools like no-code online databases or specialized platforms like Knack empowers individuals and organizations to create robust and scalable data storage solutions.

By following a systematic approach, from conceptual design to physical implementation and ongoing optimization, businesses can harness the power of databases and unlock the full potential of their data assets. If you’re needing help building your own database, use our no-code online app library template library to find a huge selection of options and get a free trial so you know it’s the right fit.