Take a look at how the AI handles ships. Use large numbers of flux capcitors and sinks. That way you can have more defense. It will help you learn and make mistakes less punishing.
My priority list for ballistic direct combat ships: 1 Flux vents and capacitors. 2 Automatic low-flux point defense weapons. Vulcan and flak are great. 3 Kinetic weapons. Roughly two times as many as high explosive 4 Helpful extras like hardened shields, heavy armor. 5 Missiles
Do some of the simulator missions. Most of them are tutorials for various game elements. Look at some of the ship designs and how they are fitted out. Observe how the AI handles ships, then try to learn from this.
Some ships are more difficult to use properly. Turrets are good for easy aiming and forwarfacing hardpoints with small firing cones are hard to use in the beginning.
Some low tech designs are good starters for experiments: Lasher: 1 Dual autocannon, 1 light assault gun, 3 vulcans, no missiles. Max flux stats, shields and armor. Enforcer: Two flak in the sides, two Arbalest or heavy autocannon aside, one heavy mortar in the middle. Upgrade to 2 flak, 2 HVD and 1 heavy mauler later. Max flux, no missiles.
At the start, ask yourself: What do i need this ship to be good at? Direct combat? See my first priority list. Don't follow it religiously, it is just a loose guide. Long range support? Carrier?
Also consider: Almost every ship will be forced into a close range, direct fight in a fight at some point. Combat Ships need to be strong enough on their own. Civilian and support ships usually need to be able to run away. Exceptions exist. Building your tankers and freighters without any combat power is very risky. You WILL be forced into fights by ambushes or small fleets ganging up on you.
Specialize your ships and try to make them defensible in the beginning. 2 to 1 kinetic damage to high ex damage. Missiles are nice but very situational.>pic related is this game