Understanding database structure

You need a well-designed database providing good access to critical information. By following the principles of this page, you can design a database that works well and adapts to your future needs. We will explain the basic aspects about the design of a database and how to perfect it to obtain optimal results.

A well-structured database:
– Saves disk space by eliminating redundant data.
– Maintains the accuracy and integrity of the data.
– It offers access to data in useful ways.

Designing a useful and efficient database requires following the proper process, including the following stages:

– Analysis of the requirements or identification of the purpose of your database.
– Organization of data in tables.
– Specification of the primary keys and analysis of the relationships.
– Normalization to standardize the tables.

Analysis of the requirements: identify the purpose of the database

Understanding the purpose of your database will determine your options throughout the design process. Make sure to observe the database from all perspectives.

Here are some ways to gather information before creating the database:

– Interview the people who will use it.
– Analyze business forms, such as invoices, hours worked templates, surveys.
– Examine any existing data system (including physical and digital files).

Begin by gathering any existing data that will be included in the database. You need to list these data types:


– First name
– Address
– City State Zip Code
– Email address


– First name
– Price
– Quantity in stock
– Quantity in the order


– Order number; if you want to export order data in massive ammount, Magento order export extension can be a good solution.
– Sales representative
– Date
– Products
– Price

Later on, this information will become part of the data directory, which describes the tables and fields within the database. Make sure to divide the information into useful parts as small as possible. For example, consider separating the name of the street from the country to be able to later filter the individuals according to their country of residence. Also, avoid locating the same data point in more than one table because you will add unnecessary complexity.

When you know what types of data the databases will include, where those data come from and how they will be used, you will be ready to begin planning the actual database.

Structure of the database: the building blocks of a database

The next step is to organize the visual representation of your database. To do this, you must understand exactly how the relational databases are structured. Within a database, the related data is grouped into tables, each of which consists of rows (also called “tuples”) and columns, like a spreadsheet.

Each row of a table is called a “record.” Records include data about something or someone, such as a specific customer. Instead, columns (also known as “fields” or “attributes”) contain a unique type of information that appears in each record, such as the addresses of all the clients listed in the table. Some database management systems also offer the type of data called “Autonumbering”, which automatically generates a unique number in each row.

For the purposes of creating an overview of the database, known as an entity-relationship diagram, we will not include the actual tables, but rather, each table will be converted into a box in the diagram. The title of each box should indicate what describes the data in the table. Finally, you should decide which attribute or attributes will work as the primary key for each table, if applicable. A primary key (PK) is a unique identifier for a given entity, this means that you can select a specific client even if you only know that value.

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