What ship people like is on playstyles of the person, and what the team needs, Although in reverse order of what I have them listed.
And as for tips for new players,Well, let me start a little list.
1 This is a TEAM GAME!!! Stick with your team, With a few exceptions, You want to be in close support range of each other, But not TOO close that a Nuke will damage or take you all out. The 2, Technically 3 exceptions to that is if you are a corvette, a plasma or purge rammer, or a sniper, although the first two going in against an organised team is going to get slaughtered 8/10 times. And a lone sniper tends to get picked off quickly as well.
2 Get on Discord, or a voice program with friends to play this with, Only makes it better in teamwork and more fun.
3 Play all of the ship classes and ships a little bit, Enough to get a feel for them at least, good way to find out if you like them, and also lets you know the limitations of the ships when you go to kill them, or heal them, how long they can take fire from someone is important to know in the back of your mind as a healer.
4 You will find there is a TON of ways to play the game, effective ways, and going, YOLO lol warping in alone ... Is really really stupid to try and kill the team 1v8 for example. Just because you can do it, does not make it a good idea. Now if you have a planned mass warp in with broadsides and or nukes going off or something? Same with a corvette trying to kill any other ships solo, YES it can be done, and good corvette pilots will tend to make you want to scream in frustration at times, BUT if your team is organized, they are severely limited in utility and use.
5 You can play the Light Dreadnought, AS a destroyer, and the Heavy Destroyer as a light Dreadnought, Depending on your playstyle, They are completely different, Different movemt speeds, weapon ranges and abilities, but if you want to "tank" as a Destroyer with their abilities you can, and do damage with a Dreadnought and their abilities you may as well.
6 The Tactical cruisers, or healers, First off, 95% of the time you want to SHOOT AND KILL THE HEALER FIRST!
So so so so many people go, I was shooting the ship and not damaging it, well, they are getting healed ... The only times you don't want to focus the healer first is when the other ship is very low, you think you can burst damage through the healing done, OR the healer is being attacked by a corvette, or rammer, or out of Line of sight of the ship you are attacking, Being unable to heal them. Ideally if you are a tactical cruiser, you want to NOT be able to be seen by the enemy fleet, and be in LOS, Line of Sight of your ships being attacked, And PROTECT your tactical cruisers, they are your LIFELINE, So don't just focus on the ship(s) you are shooting at, look and check and make sure the radar is clear, and that your healer is safe. And as a healer, You have the RESPONSIBILITY! To keep yourself alive, Depending on the situation, you may have to run and not heal 1 ship and get to to heal the more important ship, at the time, So letting them "die" to save the rest of you all is important! Also can apply to letting them die and let you live, as they can probably get back to the fight quicker, unless you have target warp.
Depending on the situation and what you are playing...
7 First target for all ships should be the tactical cruisers, the healers at least, Unless you are a healer yourself
Then either the Artillery Cruisers, or Destroyers next, Then corvettes, unless they are actively attacking you or your team, you can't ignore those little snots!!! Next Dreads, They can last a LOT longer than most ships, depending on how they are outfitted with modules and Officer Briefings, Even without a Tactical Cruiser, BUT if you focus on the wrong order and shoot the more tanky Dreadnoughts first, the Destroyers and snipers and corvettes on the other side will try and flank or pick off your healer, and with no healer, your fights are a losing battle against a team with a healer.
Ok, That is a micro description of a short list of things to do / look out for.