Can someone help me appreciate the colony building (i.e. the building of colonies) more? Because right now, it doesn't really feel like where you choose to colonize has any sort of impact or takes any sort of thought. Basically, just colonize wherever you want, and it will be fine. The minor benefit you get from choosing sectors with the appropriate bonus (i.e. meadows give food if in a food development sector, or whatever) are both very minor, and also hidden behind research tech, in addition to being fiddly because there is no good way to get an overview of what sectors are of what type, without hovering over them one by one.
And the colony buildings don't really do much, or offer much strategic choice, it feels like. There is no real way to say "this colony will be a research powerhouse" or using clever synergies. It's basically, if you want energy, just colonize wherever, build energy development sectors, and that's it.
I don't think you're missing much, cities are kinda rubbish at everything early game, and the first exploitation is just +5, with the change for another +5 via pop. Late game when you've research all the relevant techs it's possible to build very high yield cities of the chosen field. Landmarks provide big bonuses and you can make really good units using the special bonuses from their special buildings.
Still you can get a good yield from say two lvl2 research exploitations with the +25% research buildings, bonuses research resources in the sectors, and full research slots. Assuming you didn't need the 8+ turns you spent on buildings to make soldiers.
If you're using the beta patch, they've currently got an increasing cost on the colonizers so the already important cosmite nodes are basically essential and overshadows everything except great landmarks.
Landmarks are the big thing, along with the obvious Cosmite nodes. There's also hazards, coast access, defensibility, and reinforcement lines to consider. There's also easy and hard terrains to master, along with small leans one way or the other in terms of resource friendliness. That said the city building is not where the depth of this game lives. That's the tactical combat.