- 07 Jul 2022
- 5 Minutes to read
Tips for creating great bases for Airtable Universe
- Updated on 07 Jul 2022
- 5 Minutes to read
As mentioned previously, not every base published through Airtable Universe will get listed on the main Airtable Universe site. If you would like to maximize the chance that your base will be featured on the main Airtable Universe site—and also ensure that folks browsing Universe will take the time to read through and like your base—we recommend that you take a moment to read through these guidelines about what makes for a high-quality Universe base.
In general, there are two types of bases that make good Airtable Universe bases: bases that are valuable for their structure (which you also can think of as user-generated "templates") and bases that are valuable for their content. Some bases may fit into both categories. If you want your base to shine, it should excel in at least one of these ways.
Bases with good structure
Have you developed a killer Airtable workflow for your industry use case or personal life? Have you ever thought, "My base is great and it should be a template"? If you answered "Yes" to either of these questions, then you might have a base that is valuable for its structure. While the information within the base may be proprietary, or too specific to be of general interest, the way your base is constructed is such that other people could get a lot of use out of it if they adapted it for their own purposes. You can think of these bases as "templates" developed by Airtable users, rather than the Airtable team.
A good structure-oriented base is one that clearly articulates the purposes of its various features. This means that you should take some time to properly explain why and how your base is so useful in the published Airtable Universe base guide. Adding plenty of field descriptions or table descriptions when appropriate is one of the best ways to make your base more accessible to a wider audience.
Here are a few examples of well-structured bases.
- WeWork’s “Polaris” UX Research Nuggets
- Singularity Hub’s Digital Media Editorial Calendar
- Khe Hy’s Personal CRM
IMPORTANT: When you publish a base to Universe, all of the information in that base becomes available to the public. If your base has sensitive, confidential, or proprietary information, you should NOT directly publish it to Universe. Instead, you should publish a redacted copy of your base, following these steps:
- Make a duplicate of your base (making sure to uncheck the “Duplicate records” box)
- Create a few sample records with dummy data for each table in your copied base. While not strictly required, putting sample records in your base is highly recommended, as it makes it much easier for someone encountering your base for the first time to understand exactly how it’s used.
- Take a moment to look over your copied base and ensure that everything sensitive has been removed. Note that view names, table names, options in select fields, etc. may contain sensitive information left over from the original base.
- Publish the copied base.
Bases with valuable content
Have you spent hours painstakingly compiling in-depth statistics into an easily navigable Airtable base? Are you an expert looking to impart wisdom to beginners? Are your friends always asking you for your great list of travel recommendations? If you have a base that primarily functions as a guide, collection, or curated list, then the primary value of your base is likely in its content. While the structure of the base may or may not be sophisticated, readers will be interested in the information contained within your records.
A good content-oriented base is one that takes advantage of Airtable's features to make the information within it as accessible as possible. This can mean (for example) using select fields to categorize records and create useful filtered views, or creating a gallery view to showcase the base’s images.
Here are a few examples of bases that are valuable because of their content:
- The Startup Legal Setup Guide
- A Beginner’s Guide to Craft Beer
- Pass the Aux’s Favorite Albums of 2016
IMPORTANT: With bases that are valuable for the content, it is important to keep in mind that bases published on Airtable Universe do not automatically update when changes are made to the original base. This means that if the subject of your base is such that you're frequently updating the information within, you’ll need to remember to manually update your base accordingly.
If you want your base to stand out, it's important to take the time to ensure that it looks good. Now, "looking good" isn't just about what cover photo you pick or what you name your base—it's about creating an experience that's enjoyable for the reader. Here are a few top tips.
Pick a quality cover photo
Maybe you shouldn't judge a book by its cover, but the fact of the matter is that a high-quality cover image will draw viewers to your base. Don't have any nice, high-resolution photos of your own? We recommend taking a look through Unsplash to find hi-res photos licensed under Creative Commons Zero.
Keep an eye on your views
Every view in your base will show up when you publish it on Airtable Universe. While you may know the purpose of the view labeled "Kanban View 8" in your own personal base, a person who comes across your base while browsing Airtable Universe will have no idea what it means. Be sure to give all of the views in your base descriptive names—and feel free to provide more information in your base guide.
We also recommend rearranging your views so that the first view someone sees is the one that's the most informative, important, and/or visually impressive.
Make sure you have filler data
If your base is valuable for its structure (i.e., you're publishing a template), then you probably want to publish a duplicate version of your real base and delete the real records contained within. If you do that, though, make sure to replace the real data with some fake data so that people looking at your published base will be able to figure out how to use it! This is especially important if your base relies on linked record fields, lookup fields, or rollup fields—if you don't have any filler data, your readers won't be able to figure out which tables are linked together.
In the event that you're having trouble coming up with filler data yourself, you can always look at the official Airtable templates in the template gallery for some inspiration.
Describe, describe, describe
A person coming across your base while browsing Universe won't have the same context that you do when it comes to understanding your own base. That's why it's absolutely critical to provide as much context as possible in your base guide, table descriptions, and field descriptions. Of course, you don't have to label every single field or every single table—but the more you write, the easier it'll be for viewers to understand your base, and the more useful it will be for them.