Interview with Lei Ye of McKinsey and Company

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Lei Ye

Lei Ye is a designer specializing in digital and user interface design. Currently, at McKinsey & Company, Lei crafts innovative solutions for internal applications. His design journey, significantly influenced by education at Harvard Graduate School of Design, honed his skills and deepened their understanding of the interplay between design and user experience.

1Please give us a brief bio of yourself and your design background.

I am Lei Ye, a designer with a focus on digital and user interface design, currently based in the dynamic environment of McKinsey & Company where I develop innovative solutions for internal applications. My design journey was significantly shaped by my education at Harvard Graduate School of Design, where I honed my skills and developed a deep understanding of the interplay between design and user experience.

Over the years, I have been recognized for my work with several prestigious awards, including the MUSE Design Awards and the Vega Digital Awards for a personal project that used data visualization to highlight social justice issues related to the Black Lives Matter protests. My design philosophy centers on creating intuitive and impactful digital experiences that effectively communicate complex information and engage users on multiple levels.

With a passion for merging aesthetics with functionality, my work continually seeks to push the boundaries of digital design, making information accessible and engaging through innovative visual storytelling techniques.

2What made you become/why did you choose to become a designer/artist?
I chose to become a designer because of my fascination with the way design impacts everyday life and the power it holds to solve real-world problems. From a young age, I was drawn to the creative process, intrigued by how ideas could be transformed into tangible, functional forms that people interact with. As I grew older, I realized that design went beyond just aesthetics.
3Tell us more about your business/company, job profile, and what you do.

In my current role at McKinsey & Company, I am focused on developing innovative solutions for internal applications. My primary responsibility is to enhance the functionality and user experience of these tools, which are critical for streamlining our internal processes and improving productivity across the firm.

My approach involves a thorough analysis of existing systems, identifying pain points, and brainstorming potential improvements. I collaborate closely with various teams to understand their needs and challenges, ensuring that the solutions I design not only address these issues but also introduce efficiencies that can transform our operational landscape. This role requires a deep understanding of both design principles and the specific needs of a complex organization like McKinsey.

4What does “design” mean to you?

To me, design is a powerful tool for solving problems and enhancing the way people interact with the world. It's about understanding human needs and crafting solutions that are not only functional but also delightful and accessible. Design is a bridge between technology and people, translating complex ideas into forms that are easy to use and understand.

More than just aesthetics, design is a strategic process that involves empathy, creativity, and rigorous testing to ensure that end products genuinely improve lives.

5What’s your favorite kind of design and why?

My favorite kind of design is user interface (UI) design because it perfectly blends aesthetics with functionality, directly impacting how users interact with technology. UI design fascinates me because it requires a deep understanding of user behavior, needs, and expectations, which must be balanced with the technical capabilities of the platform.

What I particularly enjoy about UI design is the challenge of creating intuitive and engaging interfaces that enhance user experiences. It involves a meticulous process of choosing the right elements, like colors, typography, and layout, to facilitate ease of use and ensure the interface is accessible to a broad audience. This type of design not only improves the functionality of digital products but also their aesthetic appeal, making everyday interactions with technology enjoyable and efficient.

Moreover, UI design is ever-evolving with technology, presenting continuous learning opportunities and the challenge to stay ahead of trends, which keeps my work dynamic and exciting.

6To you, what makes a “good” design?

To me, a "good" design is primarily user-centric, addressing real problems and enhancing the user's experience through simplicity and functionality. It combines aesthetic appeal with practical efficiency, ensuring it's accessible to everyone and adaptable to changing needs.

Good design also considers sustainability, minimizing environmental impact and promoting long-term usability. Overall, it embodies a seamless blend of form and function, making everyday interactions intuitive and enjoyable.

7Describe your design style and its main characteristics.

My design style is characterized by minimalism and functionality, focusing on creating clear, user-friendly interfaces that enhance user engagement. I prioritize clean lines, a muted color palette, and ample white space to avoid visual clutter and emphasize important content.

Responsiveness and adaptability are key, ensuring that my designs perform seamlessly across different devices and platforms. I also incorporate innovative elements when appropriate, aiming to keep my work fresh and aligned with the latest trends while ensuring it remains intuitive and accessible.

8Congratulations! As the winner of the 2024 MUSE Design Awards, what does it mean to you and your company and team to receive this award distinction?

Winning in the 2024 MUSE Design Awards for my personal solo project is an incredibly rewarding experience. This recognition is a testament to the passion and hard work I've invested in my design career. It validates my approach to digital design, emphasizing creativity, functionality, and user engagement.

Receiving this award boosts my professional profile and credibility in the design community, opening up new opportunities for collaboration and innovation. It inspires me to continue exploring and pushing the boundaries of digital design, and it motivates me to take on challenging projects that blend aesthetic appeal with practical usability.

This distinction also serves as a personal encouragement, reminding me of the impact thoughtful design can have and fueling my commitment to excellence in every project I undertake.

9Can you explain a bit about the winning work you entered into the 2024 MUSE Design Awards, and why you chose to enter this project?

The project I entered into the 2024 MUSE Design Awards was a data visualization web design that focused on social justice, specifically the Black Lives Matter protests. This project aimed to present complex and impactful data in a visually compelling and accessible way, thereby educating and engaging a broad audience on the issues of systemic racism and social activism.

I chose to enter this project into the MUSE Design Awards because it represented a perfect blend of my design skills and my personal commitment to social advocacy. The project challenged me to handle sensitive and significant data carefully and creatively, ensuring that the visualizations were not only informative but also evocative and powerful.

This work was a personal endeavor, driven by my desire to contribute positively to important societal discussions through my professional skills. Winning the Muse Design Awards for this project affirmed the relevance and impact of combining design with social awareness, and it underscored the potential of digital design to influence public perception and inspire action.

10How has winning an Award developed your practice/career?

Winning an award in this award program has significantly developed my practice and career by enhancing my reputation and establishing me as a credible and innovative designer. It has provided a stamp of excellence that differentiates my work in a competitive field, making it easier to gain the trust of new clients and collaborators.

The recognition has also expanded my professional network, opening doors to new opportunities and partnerships that were not previously accessible. It's encouraged me to take on bigger and more challenging projects, pushing the limits of what I can achieve with my design skills.

Furthermore, the award has been a source of personal motivation, reinforcing my commitment to high-quality, impactful design. It has driven me to continue refining my techniques and to remain engaged with the latest trends and technologies in the design industry. Overall, this accolade has been pivotal in accelerating my career growth and in shaping the direction of my future projects.

Winning Entry

Data-Driven Narratives: BLM | 2024

Data Driven Narrative BLM | Lei Ye

Lei Ye

Lei Ye is a designer specializing in digital and user interface design. Currently, at McKinsey & Company, Lei crafts innovative solutions for internal applications. His design journey, significantly influenced by education at Harvard Graduate School of Design, honed his skills and deepened their understanding of the interplay between design and user experience.

Read more about Lei Ye's interview with the 2024 Vega Digital Awards for his Silver winning entry 'Data-Drive Narratives:BLM'.