There is a tendecy for developers to disregard looks for function. I am certainly one of those :-) For a long time, I used to work on UI that were functional, but looked like this:
This is functional login and it certainly work in the sense that this is doing what the spec says it should. But compare it to this:
There isn't any additional functionality implemented, but there is a host of stuff that are visible that make the work much easier. You can see what you need to do (remember me, email password, create account), and it make it much easier to show the work in progress to customers.
One thing that is not immediately evident, however, is that it feels much better to work on something beautiful that something merely functional. A while ago I implemented a login page that had a whole lot of stuff in the back end that were really cool. But it wasn't until I saw the page (which looked very much like it would look in the end), that I felt a surge of satisfaction.
There is a whole list of reasons that I could give for why working on near finished UI at all times is good, from demoability to ensuring functionability, but the most important reason in my opinion is that it helps to know that you are working on something pretty. And that can give a sense of satisfaction no abstract factory can build for you :-)