Published on
February 9, 2024

Freelance Developer turned Head of Webflow: Meet Willi Sommer

Alessandro Neri
People & Culture Manager at Magic Design

We are very excited to introduce Willi Sommer, our incredible Head of Webflow, who brings his international experience and a passion for Webflow development right into the core of our Design and Webflow projects. Willi is based in Berlin, but loves to travel and lead a nomadic lifestyle, especially during the colder months.

Here's a little visual introduction from him:

Q1: Can you walk us through your professional journey before considering a role at Magic Design?

I used to work in Finance after finishing my A-Levels, which is kind of like a High School degree here in Germany.

At some point, I decided to quit everything, started travelling, and vowed to never work on something that didn't give me the freedom to work from anywhere. After making this decision, I began reading, learning, and trying various remote work opportunities.

While living in Indonesia, I met a friend who ran a Meta Ads agency. He taught me how to drive profitability for sustainable e-commerce brands. It's a pretty cool skill to have, right? One of the things I learned during this time is to “do more of the things that work, and less of the things that don’t”. Also, don’t be afraid of trying out new things. I gained a lot of knowledge about freelancing and the agency business. The most important lesson I learned during this time though was to "pick up a skill, specialise in it, and become exceptionally good at it." It's a simple concept, though not easy to achieve ;)

Inspired by Naval Ravikant's ideas on modern forms of leverage, such as code and media, I wanted to learn coding. During my time in Italy, I dedicated 2-4 hours every day to learn HTML, CSS, and the basics of JS. I then progressed to Design until I discovered Webflow. I was captivated by Webflow's modern approach, which offered high-quality code, scalability, and design freedom.

After hustling on Upwork for hourly wages of 3 or 4 Euros, I eventually landed more serious projects and was able to sustain myself solely from freelancing. During this phase, I also met Sina, one of my clients from my time on Upwork and the co-founder of Magic Design. When I returned from Mexico, we started meeting for lunch here and there. And the rest is history…

Q2: Why did you decide to join Magic Design?

I have felt successful in my freelance work. However, if I had continued, I believe I would have reached a plateau in terms of challenges after another 6 months. Joining Magic Design has provided me with a long-term opportunity to learn and express my entrepreneurial spirit. Max and Sina, the two co-founders of Magic Design have been excellent advisors since the beginning.

Q3: Can you share your experience during the recruitment process, and were there any specific aspects that stood out to you?

I joined Magic Design when they signed their first Webflow client, which was super early. It's always great to be involved from the beginning and have the opportunity to take on responsibility. Also, I always try to surround myself with people from whom I can learn. Sina & Max are exactly those kinds of people, and with every new hire, I feel like I can learn something from them as well. This kind of environment is crucial for personal growth, at least that's what I've found. From the start, we were encouraged to share ideas. It can be really discouraging when you feel like your ideas are not being heard. I've never had this feeling at Magic Design.

Q4: The move from freelance developer to Head of Webflow sounds like quite a transition, what was it like for you? What skills helped you the most in making our Webflow game strong?

Great question. One of the toughest things I learned is that you have to completely revamp your skillset. When I was a freelancer, my goal was to be the best Webflow Developer there is. However, in my current career path, this is no longer my job. It took some time for me to transition from wanting to be the best Webflow Developer (with a freelancer mindset) to being okay with not being the best. Now, my job is to find the best developers, or ideally those with the potential to become the best, and create an environment where they can thrive.

Another important learning was the significance of quality assurance (QA). We strive to improve our QA processes every day, as it is at the heart of our daily operations. Our goal is to deliver every task with pixel-perfect precision, aiming to avoid any feedback and getting everything right on the first attempt.

Q5: Could you walk us through a typical day in your current role? What tasks and responsibilities do you find most engaging and most challenging?

For me, a typical day always starts calmly, with good food and some form of mindfulness and/or body activation. I particularly enjoy tasks that allow me to enter the zone and laser focus on something, especially those that require mental heavy lifting. Another aspect I have come to love is having morning calls with our developers. Planning the day and discussing how to tackle complex problems is very enjoyable, especially when working with a team that is eager to learn, find solutions, and grow.

Maintaining focus has been a challenge for me because I serve as the bridge between our developers and customers, which requires a lot of communication and often interrupts my workflow. To address this, I have implemented designated communication times where I provide feedback on completed tasks. This practice has greatly helped me focus on important but not necessarily urgent matters.

In general, I prefer to schedule my sports session in the middle of the day, once the major tasks are completed. This allows me to recharge and return with a fresh mindset. As I write this, I’m actually about to go skydiving during my lunch break!

Q6: Among our core values (Create “WOW”, Pixel Perfect, Own it, Trust & Reliability, Figure it out, Always Communicate), which resonates with you the most, and how do you embody that value in your work?

Can I choose more than one? Maybe all of them? I really don't want to pick. To me, it feels a bit like choosing your favourite character trait of your partner. It's the combination that makes it work. The only thing I would say, though, is that "Create 'WOW'" may not be the perfect solo value to focus on, and here's why: It is the result that comes from acting on all of the other values. I probably align well with Magic Design because all of those values also play a huge role in my personal value orientation, even if slightly adjusted.

Q7: If you were to speak to potential candidates are considering joining Magic Design, what advice would you give them?

Don't be afraid of making mistakes. Eventually, they will happen. When they do, stand up for them, learn from them, and strive to improve. The willingness to learn and grow is a must-have character trait.

Q8: When you're not navigating the design realm with Magic Design, what's a personal passion or hobby that brings balance to your routine?

Pretty much all kinds of sports you can do in nature. I particularly enjoy outdoor sports and travelling. Whether it's hiking through the mountains, skydiving, snowboarding, or any other activity, these experiences help me maintain a sense of balance and creativity.

Q9: And now… last question! If your morning coffee could grant you a superpower for the day, what would that power be?

Teleportation! It would save me a lot of time and carbon monoxide when travelling.

About Magic Design

Magic Design is a Design Subscription service for Startups and Scaleups founded in 2023 by Maximilian Fleitmann and Sina Sadegh. Since our launch, we’ve empowered over 40 businesses with stunning design and Webflow websites.

Marketers and Founders are able to save time and money thanks to our streamlined project management and our flexible and transparent monthly rates that allow for unlimited design tasks and revisions.

Interested in joining our remote-first, innovative and growing company? Check out our open positions.

About the author
Alessandro Neri
People & Culture Manager at Magic Design
Born and raised in my hometown Bologna in Italy, I’ve always been passionate about Technology and People, so found the perfect fit in the Human Resources field. My experience spans diverse sectors, allowing me to bring a well-rounded perspective and I’ve actively contributed to the organisational fabric of companies like Nord Security, PwC and Workmotion, fostering talent development and implementing strategic HR initiatives.