Imagine your considering adding a furry canine to your life (who isn’t?). You’re not sure exactly what you want. What’s the best way to go about it?

One way is to page through pictures of a bunch of puppies—God knows there’s no shortage. There’s probably an Uber for puppies somewhere even ready to deliver Spot to your house. However, each picture, while undoubtedly cute, is sterile and static, and gives you no insight into the behavior, bark, bite, and personality of the puppy. Sure, perhaps there’s some value in the visual appeal, but not much more. Can you really make a decision this way?

Another way is actually going to the kennel and playing with puppies. Each puppy up for adoption rubs up against you, licks you, wags its tail. You form a deeply emotional bond. You may even start to think you need two puppies—or, can our living room fit three? Being physically with the puppy gives much more of an idea of what it will be like to live with this animal, and thus is FAR more informative in evaluating puppies. The payload of that experience is 1000 times more than just the picture.

Designers: treat your designs as kennel visits, not pictures. Prototypes, not static mockups. Have your clients and customers play with your design, and get a real gauge of how well it will do the job.