Regardless of what we are developing a web experience for—awareness, engagement, conversion, sales—we inevitably get questions from people about the fold. Traditional wisdom had it that above is prime territory. For a good few years that thinking has shifted, supported by anecdotal evidence as well as a load of great studies (here is one article that references two studies that present slightly differing views). This shift is credited primarily to the arrival of finger scrolling, which has become second nature to people and universally accepted by every manufacturer and designer.
It seems clear the expectation for the screen is that it is a limited view, there is always something more. As much as there is more to a building than just the entry way or more to a book than the introduction. I’m curious and would like to know if there has been any study on the perception of pages that don’t scroll. If they seem to be broken or suggest a connection has been lost or even create frustration. I have to believe design can “say” if there is more to see or not. There are both subtle and overt triggers to indicate “there’s more to see below.” With or without those triggers the data would suggest the expectation is to scroll. (And it seems that zoom just never got a toe-hold on this. That is magnifying in and out seems to be limited to the domain of designers, photographers, engineers, and other like-minded folks - it’s just not natural or maybe too disorienting.)
So, with all this in mind, the question of above or below the fold no longer seems to address the issue of how content should be structured. Given what we know about scrolling, the question needs to be, how do we structure content that works with, plays off of, enhances, works with the scroll. And certainly seems a rich area to explore. Parallax scrolling and other scroll-triggered animations are some of the tools. Seems this is a new frontier for design if not a new standard for it, that of the “scroll-driven” experience.