For the most part it's a real trial and error process, you should play a continuous game without opponents and take time to space manage. However MrUtada_1109 has a great starting guide here http://www.gamefaqs.com/boards/genmessage.php?board=952498&topic=50398184
if you would like just pictures then here: Production http://mrutada.deviantart.com/art/Anno-1404-Production-Building-128109069 Civilian structures http://mrutada.deviantart.com/art/Anno-1404-Building-128109165 Pier production http://mrutada.deviantart.com/art/Mass-Production-and-Tips-129121386
Overall, It depends on your view of how you want your city to be and look like.
as sirjasperius had already given out my pictures of how my i placed my city, this is actually the way the A.I. did for their city, but as for the production building placement, it was adapted from the A.I.
but i don't remember when i decided to go for less road travel than saving on maintenance cost.
I stopped planning when every single house that isn't covered starts an inferno or the plague. Usually, you'd skip a house or two when there's a better coverage in another position for more houses. But no, not with surgeries or carpenter. Skip a house in the influence area, the game WILL start the plague/set it on fire. Hence I'm forced to put those in awkward places, usually to cover a single house, messing up plans in the process.