There are basically three choices available to you and it’ll all come down to your preferred playing style and attitudes to risk.
Pure Melee: For those who prefer getting up close and want to learn how to block and/or roll effectively. A fairly high-risk and high-reward way of playing as you can use the more advanced combat techniques such as parries and ripostes.
Mix of Both: For players who don’t mind compromising on overall strength in return for the ability to fight effectively in almost any combat scenario. Will prevent access to the very best melee weapons and spells (due to skill point distribution), but is still very deadly none-the-less.
Pure Ranged: Least amount of risk required as you can stay further away from an enemy’s attack (especially those who are melee attackers); but it limits the overall combat choices and forces you to become good at dodging attacks by rolling out of danger (compared to 'tanking' it with a shield up).
For us, we really enjoyed using a melee build with Pyromancy (due to no need for any stats in Faith (FTH) or Intelligence (INT)) and a bow (and was the set-up you’ll see in all of our boss videos and screenshots). But it should be noted that players wanting to rain down magical-fires of death are very well catered for as there’s a large number of very capable spells/miracles/hexes available.
We recommend starting two brand new files and play up to the end of the Land of Giants boss with a pure melee and a pure magic class and then decide for yourself which one you enjoy the most. Playing with magic will make the game somewhat easier overall (more-so when using the really powerful spells later on); but ultimately base your decision on what you find the most enjoyable way to play.