Using some of the expansions, you can get fighters with more weapon slots, which gives you a lot more flexibility in your designs.
For example, the Scavengers mod has a “heavy” fighter, which can mount 4 weapons, and 4 or 5 standard slots. This allows you to create medium-fast fighters with one weapon, or slow fighters with massive weaponry.
4 Anti-Fighter missile pods, light armor = excellent fighter defense especially when given orders to ignore frigates and cruisers.
4 big guns/rocket pods, heavy armor, light shield = excellent frigate destroyer, esp when ignoring fighters.
1 Painter, 2 missile pods, double engines = INSTANT DETH TO BAD GUYS…or something like that