One of the first thing new EVE Online players will notice is that there just aren't traditional MMOG avatars here. Rather than your typical humanoid character representation, you're basically your ship. Just like your humanoid avatars, your ship will require addition bits and pieces before you are battle ready. These bits are referred to as "fittings" and in order to be at all successful in any sort of combat you'll need at least a basic knowledge of them.
Just starting out you are given a weapon and a miner. These are already on your ship and act as your very first fittings. You'll quickly find that you will want to upgrade, but how?
On your first few missions you'll likely pick up assorted small weapons, shield boosters and other odds and ends. Just about anything is an upgrade to your newbie items so you'll probably want to use some of these things while you are still trying to earn ISK to buy better stuff.
On your side bar you'll see a tab marked "Fitting". Open it to see the fittings window, it will look a little something like this:
If you have yet to do the tutorial or disable your welcome pages on your windows, then you will have the option to run through the fittings tutorial. I highly recommend doing this! While having this out of game guide is handy, being able to walk through it step-by-step in game is invaluable.
In the above image and in your own fittings window, you will see all the basics of your ship. In the circle surrounding the model of your ship your will see modules. This is where your various fittings will go. You have limited space starting out in your first ship, but larger ships will have more modules suitable for their purpose. There are a few different kinds of modules that each receive a specific types of fitting:
High Powered Slots: This is where you will see weapons, mining equipment, and loaded ammo.
Medium Powered Slots: This is where shield items, boosters, jammers, and other helpful items will go.
Low Powered Slots: Various types of armor and weapon upgrades will go in these slots.
To add an item to your ship's fitting you can either drag and drop the item into the fittings window, or you can right click on the item in your items window a select "fit to active ship". If the item meets the requirement for your character and your ship, it will automatically be added. If you are missing some requirement, a window will pop up and tell you what you need. Rather than randomly trying to fit items to your ship though, there is an easier way to determine if you have the skills and ship requirements needed in order to use an item.
Whether it is a weapon you picked up off of a pirate or a shield booster you've been saving for and want to buy off of the market, chances are it has prerequisites. In order to see the details of any item, right click and choose "show info". This will bring up a window of item details that includes skills needed to use it, info on what exactly it does, and fitting requirements.
If you are browsing the marketplace then you have a reference available to allows you to quickly browse through an item type, such as medium auto-cannons as in our example, that show as red or green icons on the marketplace window. If any one of the icons (skill, power load, and CPU load are represented) is red then you cannot use the item with your current ship.
Once you have fitted an item you can unfit it and put it back into your items or repackage it and sell it with you don't plan on using it again. This is not true however for rigs. Once a rig is fitted to the ship, it is destroyed when removed so choose your rigs wisely!
The stats panel shows all your current info for the ship you are currently occupying. These numbers represent your ship, any current fittings, and your character's stats. As items are added and removed you'll notice that your stats will fluctuate accordingly. In order to jump between fittings quickly to achieve the stats you need for whatever you are heading out to do, you can save a specific fitting and change between various fitting sets. This is particularly helpful for accumulating favorite PvP, PvE, and industrial builds.
Now you should have a basic working understanding of fittings. How you fit your ship is very individual to what you intend to do with your ship so I encourage you to stop by our forums and ask for player advice if you are looking for a fitting or check out applications like this EVE Online Fitting Tool for assistance.