the Zop

When newly joined engineers at Google gear up to work on products meant for novice internet users, they are told that they have to first “Gorm the Zop” before they can design or build anything. The initial reaction is that of interest and uncertainty. Indeed, it’s gibberish and means nothing until they sit down to “Gorm the Zop” and realize it means everything.

Gorm the Zop is an online exercise that attempts to replicate the journey that novice internet users go through when handed a smartphone for the first time or when they encounter new buttons or alerts on their phones that they have not seen before. It walks an engineer, a designer, or a product manager through a series of steps with an objective to “Gorm the Zop.” Without any description of what action “Gorm” entails, or if it does require action, or what the “Zop” looks like, or if it is actually an object, the engineer would start clicking on things on their screen.

While figuring things out, an “Authorize” button would appear, which had to be clicked to continue but there’s no explanation on what that would do. Every time an action was done that failed to “Gorm the Zop,” there would be boxes popping up with either a warning or a different instruction to do something else. In the end, the objective is eventually accomplished, or it simply ends because it has given up on them.

The activity is Google’s unique way of attempting to put the people behind NBU products in the NIUs shoes. Skilled engineers who went through the simple exercise admitted to getting confused, experiencing hesitations, questioning their knowledge, and sometimes losing their confidence while playing the game. Novice users of smartphones go through all of that and more.

With very little to no experience with new technology, they often get overwhelmed, question themselves, and face paralyzing fear that they will break their phone if they touch the screen or do anything they don’t understand. That’s why instead of exploring their phones on their own, they either wait for their family members or friends to teach them how to do things on it (see Teachers), or they stick with what they know and don’t bother learning more (see Designing for Confidence).

This reaction is common to NIUs, but it is only when product teams spend time with novice users on the ground in their actual environment (see Immersion) that they are able to witness the extent of this behavior. In uninhibited scenarios, their reactions to and interactions with their smartphone are very telling and allow teams to identify subtle but profound responses. In the same way, simulated experiences like “Gorm the Zop” enable teams to experience what goes through a novice user’s mind when they see pop-up alerts, strange icons, or instructions without explanations. Going through the same emotions opens up insights that could otherwise have not been uncovered just by observations.

What we have learned through such activities is that sometimes the most creative app or UI ideas that we think would enable smartphone users to navigate through their phone more easily (see Navigating phones) may not necessarily be the most helpful for everyone. We have to constantly challenge our assumptions, which are influenced by our own expertise and very different experiences from the NIUs, and endeavor to look at things from their perspective.

Because of that, Google puts paramount importance in understanding real-life experiences that influence behaviors that largely dictate how NIUs engage with devices and applications. We learned that that can only be achieved if there are firsthand experiences of the same challenges whether through immersions or simulations like “Gorm the Zop.”


Internet access is a basic human right. But the goal of providing equitable and inclusive internet access to everyone remains unmet.

Building inclusive products

Conducting user research, whether it’s on-the-ground or virtual, helps designers better understand the people they aim to serve.


Everyone should be able to find the info they need online, but not everyone can. Find out why.

Designing for confidence

Inclusive digital design can help novice internet users grow their digital confidence.


Everybody who works in tech can help create a more inclusive, equitable internet for everyone, everywhere.

Financial inclusion

Financial inclusion goes beyond financial access. It’s about empowering, creating opportunities, and accelerating progress.

Growth in Africa
Growth in Africa

The growth of Africa’s internet economy will shape how everyone uses the internet in the future.


The next billion internet users are mobile-first or mobile-only, which makes their smartphone a key part of their digital experience.


Teams who immerse themselves in the communities they aim to reach are more likely to build successful products.


Tech has the potential to fundamentally change the way employers and job-seekers interact in every kind of market.


It’s the tech community’s responsibility to support novice internet users as they learn how to be online.


Most internet content is published in English. Learn how tech innovations are changing that.

Motorcycle Mode in Maps

Built for the next billion users, Motorcycle Mode in Google Maps shows how developers Google can improve existing services to meet evolving user needs.

Navigating a smartphone

From tapping, to pinching, to swiping, and more—developers can help unlock the value of a smartphone.

Optimizing for Offline

Novice internet users can better access the benefits of the internet with offline capabilities and “lite” versions of apps.


We’re developing new ways to protect people’s privacy when they share devices with friends and family.


It’s our responsibility to help answer the questions of novice internet users—so they’re empowered when they go online.

Reality vs Perception

We’re helping educate novice internet users in order to prevent misconceptions and empower people when they spend time online.


Google Search is a key part of a novice internet user’s experience—providing access to everything from news, medical services, recipes, entertainment, and more.


Novice internet users often learn how to use the internet and their smartphones through their friends and family. Learn more about their experiences.


Many novice internet users don’t know common digital symbols and functions. Upboarding helps grow digital literacy by meeting users where they are.


Developing enhancements for voice tools can help grow the internet and bring more people around the world online.


The barriers women face are disproportionately higher compared to their male counterparts. We have the opportunity to empower women and help close the gap.

Xtreme conditions

Some novice internet users experience environmental barriers that prevent them from getting online. Learn more about the challenges they face.


The benefits of education should be made available to all youth, the country's richest resource and the driving force to full country potential.

Gorm the Zop

“Gorm the Zop” is a game to help people understand the experiences of novice internet users around the world—and build empathy.