What makes an application high-performing? UI and UX are key elements so are the server, bandwidth, and overall programming. But, one aspect has a significant impact on the performance of any application: the database design.
A good database design helps businesses store and retrieve accurate data. It’s also helpful to maintain data accuracy, consistency, and reliability and enable applications to be scalable and capable of performing during high workloads. Database architects, when designing a database, always have aspects such as speed, consistency, and update efficiency in mind.
But, what considerations should you identify when building a database? What are relational database architecture best practices? Let’s go over the 10 databases best practices you need to know.
Key Considerations When Designing a High-Performance Database
Before starting to design your database, you need to determine your goals for it. These are some things to keep in mind:
Before designing your database, one of your first steps should be defining who you need feedback. What stakeholders should be involved in this process?
Take into account the end-users in your organization, such as team members, project managers, developers, and even external stakeholders like potential customers. This will help also define the priorities and main goals of the database.
Stakeholders are important because they could also bring ideas and best practices and even help you save resources.
2. Database Design Principles
Principles help guide the designing process of a database. Microsoft sets outs two main principles:
1) Avoid duplicate information: Duplicate information is bad as it wastes space and increases the chances of errors or inconsistencies.
2) Accurate information: If a database has incorrect information, any reports or input will have misleading information.
Good design has to:
- Divide your information into subject-based tables that help reduce duplicate or redundant information.
- Provides access to the information needed to join the information in the tables together.
- Supports and ensures accuracy and integrity of information
- Accommodates data processing and reporting needs.
To design a database, you first need to determine which type of database you need. Planning and gathering the necessary information becomes crucial at this stage of the process.
Firstly collect the forms using data that will go into the database. Then review all the processes involved in collecting and processing data for the database. And finally, determine the types of data you will gather and store in your database.
For example, customer contact information (name, email address, city, etc.).
Your data needs to be as simple as possible to remove any complexity. Having a database is to have your information as organized and approachable as possible.
How to Design a Good Database?
Implementing database best practices significantly simplifies the development process. These are the top 10 you should keep in mind:
1. Simple is Better
When designing your database, keep in mind your users. Avoid creating overcomplicated things or adding too many features or aspects. Prioritize usability, ensuring that using your database is easy for users.
To make this possible, create a standard and stick to it throughout your database. Also, don’t leave any errors or potential mistakes for users or future devs.
2. Consider Different Points of View
As mentioned previously, it’s important to consider the input from stakeholders. During the planning is key to take into account every viewpoint. This way, it’s easier to set expectations and better understand the search functions.
All the input and perspectives gathered will also help you discover how technical your database needs to be and if you need to create a manual for users to learn its features.
3. Choose a Database Type
Choose the database that best fits your needs. Usually, this means deciding between SQL and NoSQL.
SQL – Structured Query Language – enables you to interact with a database and make meaningful use of its data. These databases are known as the “traditional” ones and are most popular for structured data.
NoSQL – Not Only SQL – is more suitable for machine learning, the Internet of Things, and web analytics because it has flexibility, speed, and scalability.
4. Normalize Your Data
Normalizing your data means protecting its consistency and avoiding redundancy. You can make this by verifying dependencies and ensuring these are in order and consistent in the database. Also, to prevent anomalies, double-check your database dependencies.
5. Make Structures Transparent
Remember, the goal of the database is to make it useful for future users. Stay away from plurals, abbreviations, shortcuts, or anything that might confuse users.
While for the creator, this could make the work easier, it will definitely make it more complex to use for users.
6. Think Long-Term
A good database design is scalable. Your database won’t be in beta forever. You need to plan ahead for real-world conditions so your database will be ready for any types of challenges in the future.
Look and plan how your users will need to scale and adapt your database differently from its original design. It is also helpful to plan for resource limitations.
7. Document Everything
Documentation might be the most boring part of designing a database, but it’s also one of the most important ones. Having everything documented keeps track of even the smallest details that can be fundamental at some point.
Your database needs to have clearly explained instructions for users to easily understand and clear their doubts. You can also document by creating a diagram. Diagrams are a helpful way to help your users understand data relationships and their structures.
8. Bring in the Tech Team
Database design isn’t only the role of a database architecture or administrator. It should also be teamwork.
Work hand in hand with DBA and developers, and define which tasks are better for who. For example, database administrators can only do specific actions, like making changes in the database to determine the expectations and roles.
9. Privacy is a Priority
Information stored in databases is confidential; therefore, privacy is a priority when designing databases. Focus on implementing the best security practices such as password encryption, user restriction via authentication, and using different database servers than your application.
These and more practices will help you ensure that your data is secure and away from any attack or breach.
10. Make Sure it Fit Your Needs
Among database best practices, you should always consider building one that fits your needs. While other databases might seem more “fancy” or with better features, yours should be exactly for the needs you have.
Why is this important? Because it minimizes unnecessary to maintain, reduces investment, and overall makes it better and easier to use.
The power of databases is the fact that they are not static. You can start designing and building one, redefine it and improve it in the future. This is why focusing on scalability is a key aspect.
As your business and users’ needs change, so do your application´s needs. And by building a reliable database, you’ll be able to acquire fundamental input and create a high-performing application. These 10 best database practices are key to effectively planning how to use your data as it transforms over time.
Author´s bio: Gabriela Molina is the Editor-in-Chief of DistantJob. As a former freelance journalist, she has covered a wide range of topics throughout her career. She was featured in Datasciencentral, Simpleprogrammer, and YouTeam, to name a few. She is currently specializing in the areas of technology, leadership, and remote work.